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Roman brooch

Before detectorists started to unearth them almost everywhere, Roman brooches used to be rare. The total number found over the last 50 years must now run into many tens of thousands. For collectors this is wonderful, for good Roman broches can now be bought for sums not far into double figures.

The type I see most are those of the T-shape. Around 20 years since a detectorist sent me an image of 50 of them, all finds and all in good condition. I have often wondered exactly how many he had found during his detecting career.

Pictured here is a brooch that was recently unearthed by Tom Burton. This is in the shape of a bird with its incised feathers inlaid with coloured enamel, much of which is still in place. On the underside is a mount for a fastening pin (lost) and a stub where the catchplate would have been. Date wise, I would suggest circa 150-200 AD.

Lots of Roman brooches are in the shape of animals and birds and they are often decorated with enamel. Brooches very similar to Tom’s find are in the shape of a duck. However, they have a duck’s bill whereas the brooch featured here is in the shape of a bird with a pointed beak. Therefore, whilst this brooch is in the shape of a bird, it doesn’t look like the usual duck.


Much of the enamel has survived, which is a plus point. Minus points include the missing fastening pin and catch plate. In its present state of preservation I’d price this Roman bird brooch at £70 – £90.

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