Brooches within antiquity were items used as fasteners for cloaks, trousers and other clothing items which needed to be fastened. They were thought to be a fashionable addition to the style of the ancient Roman or Celtic outfit. There are several types of brooches found in relation to Romano-British or Romano-Celtic culture: brooches with pin hinges, spring hinges or ring brooches.
The bird brooch above is an example of a brooch with a pin hinge. The pin hinge was used to fasten cloaks within the early 1st century AD, they required a lot of pressure to open. Brooches as an accessory became associated with the upper class and the more elaborate the brooch the higher the status of its wearer. The zoomorphic kind of brooch was typical in the British area as many of the birds shown were either representative of native birds or of ducks.
For more information on Roman animal symbolism, please see our blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art