Romano-British Openwork Brooch


A finely modelled Romano-British asymmetrical bronze brooch, featuring an intricate and textured openwork design. On the right-hand side, the brooch features an S-shaped loop – possibly representing the shape of an axe. The shaft is straight, featuring a mid-rib – we see diagonal engravings on one end, and knobbed terminals at the other. To the reverse, the original hinged mechanism and pin have unfortunately been broken away.

Date: Circa AD 150 - 225
Provenance: From a Surrey gentleman's collection (D.G.), purchased on the London Art market from ADA member, 1990s - onwards.
Condition: The open work itself is in good condition, with only minor earthly encrustations. However, the pin and hinge on the reverse have been destroyed.


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. Most pins were produced from bronze or iron however, precious metals such as gold have been used, owned by those of a higher status to demonstrate their wealth and power.

Brooches as this fine example fall within the ‘Openwork Non-enamelled’ type. Dating between AD 150 -225, these Roman-period brooches are mainly characterised by Celtic traditional motifs in different levels of elaboration. They appear to have been developed in the central European provinces of the Empire, specifically around Germany and Pannonia, with only a few examples recovered in Britain or Gaul.

Weight 11.96 g
Dimensions L 4.7 x W 3.0 x H 0.7 cm