Date published: 25th May 2020

Brooches were used for more than just clothes fasteners in the Roman world and the zoomorphic are an excellent example of this. Similar to other types of personal adornment, these animal themed artefacts were often brightly coloured with enamels which would have been striking in contrast to the main metals which were used to construct the brooches.

The zoomorphic brooches are also examples of the mixing of cultures. In the collection at Vindolanda we can see not only the realistic, classical Roman approach to zoomorphic brooches as well as the more abstract native trumpet scroll patterns such as the duck brooch. The best example of these coming together would be the fantastic dragonesque brooches.

But do we know what they mean? We can take what we know of religion and symbolism in Roman art and begin to understand the importance of these once bright and beautiful objects.