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Timeless are pleased to offer a large Roman Military Crossbow Brooch, dating from the 3rd - 4th centuries A.D.


The crossbow brooch was ubiquitous throughout the late Roman empire, often worn on the shoulder with the long, tapering leg uppermost (so that the brooch would appear inverted to us). The deep bow of the brooch would allow the Roman soldier to 'gather up' the thick material of his cloak and pin it securely - much like the other classic Roman military brooch: the knee brooch.


The crossbow brooch is a type of fibula brooch (essentially a fancy safety pin -fibula means clasp) from the Roman republic and empire. While buckles were common, and buttons occasionally used, the pin and catchplate clasp of the fibula lent itself to the flowing robes, tunics and cloaks of the Roman period.


At almost 7cm in length, the brooch has a pin that still remains articulated. One interesting feature of this 1800-year-old brooch is that the head-knop and pin have patinated quite differently to the main body of the brooch.


Roman crossbow brooches were constructed from up to 15 different parts, and it is very likely that the bronze components of this brooch contained varying amounts of copper, resulting in the differing patination of its parts.


A very unusual brooch!




SKU: cb005
  • Acquired by Timeless in 2018 on the specialist UK antiquities market, formerly owned by a private collector.

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