Roman Bronze Disc Brooch with Niello Inlay

£ 100.00

A fine Roman bronze disc brooch decorated with a niello inlay resembling a laurel wreath. The circular body is made of thin bronze, featuring eight small peripheral lugs equally spaced at the edge. Enclosed by two knurls, a wreath-like pattern composed of two rings of niello small lozenges arranged in chevron formation with a thin circle in between, lies on a slightly raised wide encircling band. Inside the wide band are two concentric circles with a central dent. To the reverse, the body is unworked while the original hinge and catch plate remains intact, however the pin is now missing.

Date: Circa 1st Century AD
Provenance: Ex Cambridge collection, acquired 1990s-2000s.
Condition: Fine condition with some patination and earthly encrustations to the surface. Pin is now missing. A lug to the edge is chipped.


Fibulae or brooches were originally used in Ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire for fastening garments, such as cloaks or togae. The fibula designs developed into a variety of shapes, but all were based on the safety-pin principle. The Roman conquests resulted in a spread of Roman culture and therefore the use of the fibula, which became the basis for more complicated and highly decorated brooches, modelled in bronze, silver and gold and further enriched with precious and semi-precious gemstones. Fibulae are the most common artefact-type in burials and settlements throughout much of continental Europe. By the Middle Ages, the Roman safety pin type of fibula had fallen into disuse. Disc brooches began initially as flat, circular plate brooches, like this fine example. Their design and decoration became more complex as their popularity increased.

Niello is a metallic alloy with sulphur, used as a surface decoration technique which was fused to a metal base. It comes in a variety of black tones and was commonly applied to silver due to the high contrast between the two materials.

Weight 5.8 g
Dimensions L 3 cm



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