Roman millefiori decorated brooch

Photo: The Portable Antiquities Scheme CC By SA2.0
Object type: Brooch
Period: Roman
Primary material: Copper alloy
Date found: 26/05/2021
Location: County Durham


An enamelled Roman brooch dating to AD100 – 200 that is considered a Find of Note of National Importance. The brooch has a band of enamel decoration of alternating green and millefiori material.


The term millefiori (“thousand flowers”) was first used to refer to glass of the Italian Renaissance but the technique is an ancient one. Modern craftsmen have attempted to imitate the technique and in the 1959 issue of Archaeology, Frederic Schuler outlined his suggestion of tesserae being cut to size, placed together in a mould and then fused together by heat. There is a final step of rotary grinding which may reduce the thickness by up to half.

There are some examples of this millefiori decoration on the PAS database but it is less common in Britain than in Continental provinces. A piece of millefiori was found in a purse at Sutton Hoo.