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. Their design and decoration became more complex as their popularity increased. The sunburst pattern, or starburst, was one frequently used, to imitate the rays of the sun. The cult of Mithras was immensely popular amongst the military, having spread from Persia with the Roman army. It was exceedingly popular amongst the soldiers of the Danube and Rhineland, and then spread into Britain.