In the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome, fibulae (or brooches) were originally used for fastening garments. They came in a variety of shapes, but all were based on the safety pin principle. Roman conquests spread the use of the fibula, which became the basis for more complicated brooches. The crossbow design reached the height of its popularity both in Italy and the Western European provinces at a later stage in the Empire’s history. Worn almost exclusively by men, the crossbow brooch came to represent civil and military authority, with famous late Roman generals such as Stilicho having been depicted wearing crossbow fibulae. Simpler versions made with cheaper materials were then popularised by Roman soldiers, thus allowing for their spread into the provinces where they became a staple of Romano-Celtic fibula design.
Roman Silver Crossbow Brooch
A Roman crossbow brooch cast from silver featuring a thick arched bow leading to a flat foot. The tubular cross-bar terminates with two ridges and a circular knob. A further ovular knob is displayed above the flange, protruding from the head. The body is of a slim chamfered shape with two raised horizontal bands at the base. The hinged pin is complete and sits in the pin catch.
Provenance: Ex Cambridgeshire private collection, 1990's-2000's.
Condition: Very fine condition, some scratches to the bow.