Ancient Roman Bronze Key Ring


An Ancient Roman bronze ring featuring a round loop and a notched protruding key. The ring consists of a wide central segment divided into three rectangular panels acting as the key ward. Both are narrow and attached to a hollow cylindrical element, which presents a small triangular cut at the base.

Closest UK ring size: M

Date: Circa 1st-4th Century AD
Provenance: From the Brookie family collection. Preston Lancashire, bought in the 1990's from an A.D.A London gallery.
Condition: Fine condition, some patination to the surface.


SKU: MG-144 Category: Tags: ,

Small and elegant key rings such as these were a Roman innovation. Sometimes they depicted the door for which they were designed to unlock. Furthermore, keys were considered a symbol of status due to the owner impling they had valuable assets to protect by wearing them. Such rings are also believed to have symbolised marriage or betrothal, and were worn by Roman brides to signify their role in household management. Keys and lock bolts account for the most common items of Roman security hardware to survive to this day. Keys were used mainly for doors, chests, boxes, caskets, cupboards, and padlocks, although they sometimes served ceremonial or decorative purposes, such as matron keys, jewellery items, and votive offerings. Keys such as these were in use from the first century A.D. until the early medieval period.

Weight 5.89 g
Dimensions W 1.8 x H 1.7 cm



Reference: For a similar item, please see The V&A, item 547-1871