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. Brooches modelled in the shape of animals have been vastly recovered across all the Roman Empire, including Roman Britain. Production of plate brooches such as this example were centred in Britain and Gaul. In manufactured in Britain, this brooch would depict a hare, rather than a rabbit, as the latter was not introduced to Britain until the Norman period.
Romano-British Bronze Hare Brooch
A fine ancient Romano-British cast bronze flat brooch modelled in the shape of a hare, or rabbit. The animal is naturalistically rendered in a recumbent pose, with an arched back and bent legs tucked under its body. Detailing of the anatomy has been created through the use of incised grooves and indentations, especially evident on the large ears and paws of the hare. The large, open gaze of the animal created by two concentric circles, initially decorated with vibrant enamel. On the hare’s body is evidence of two young leverets, sat facing each other and flanking a central star. The young hares are indented and may have been decorated with further enamaling, although it is hard to distinguish this now. This style of decoration was common in the 2nd century and proceeded the plain zoomorphic plate brooches. The remains of the original hinge and catch-plate feature on the reverse, however the pin is now missing.
Provenance: Ex JS collection, acquired on the London Art Market, Dorset.
Condition: Fine condition. Pin now missing. Enamel decoration worn away.