Romano-British Bronze Zoomorphic Brooch

£ 425.00

A Romano-Celtic bronze zoomorphic brooch, depicting a frog. The body of the animal is formed from a tapering, rectangular plate, forming the arched bow of the fibula. The plate restricts to form the rounded snout of the frog and a short stub for his tail. Incised, undulating lines decorate the head, representing the dappled skin of the amphibian. Two raised nodules protrude from the surface, acting as the eyes. There are two rectangular recessed cells situated on the body of the fibula. A row of vertical, round indentations decorate the cells, which would have been set with coloured inlays of yellow enamel. Two cells are still filled whilst the rest are now empty. There are two flanking pairs of small triangular limbs projecting from the sides, one set near the pointed head and one set at the rear end. The reverse of the brooch includes a double-lugged hinge and a catchplate for the pin, which is now missing.

Date: Circa 2nd Century AD
Condition: Very fine. Some enamel still visible and vibrant. Original pin missing.


Zoomorphic brooches were a common theme and make up a substantial amount of the repertoire available. Aquatic animals were popular, although frogs are more scarce than other motifs. Frogs appear in both Roman mythology and Celtic. To the former, they were emblems of fertility and harmony between two lovers. Thus they were dedicated to Venus and imbued with a sense of licentiousness. To the Celts, frogs were associated with rivers, wells and water, making them a sacred emblem. They were thought to bring good luck and harmony and were often worn for their apotropaic values.

Brooches such as this were most arguably continental in origin, rather than made in Britain by local craftsmen.

For more information on ancient Roman animal symbolism, please see our blog post: Animal Symbolism in Roman Art

Weight 12.08 g
Dimensions L 4.7 x W 1.9 cm





Reference: For Similar: The Portable Antiquities Scheme, UK, id HAMP-0C6CF4 and For Similar: The Morgan Library & Museum, USA, item 2012.2:4