A Late Roman bronze crossbow fibula with a ridged crossbar decorated with two collared onion-shaped terminals, and a third onion-shaped terminal above the junction with the bow. The bow is decorated with vertical channels on the outer face with guilloche decoration within the channels. The rectangular footplate houses the D-shaped catch plate and its outer face is decorated with two central vertical channels with guilloche between, and upper and lower sections of ring and dot decorations.
Date: Circa 4th Century AD Condition: Very fine, missing the central raised point on the left onion-shaped terminal, pin intact and in working condition, pale green patination, some traces of gilding on the footplate, and minor encrustations over the whole.
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’s conquests spread 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 the continental Europe. By the Middle Ages, the Roman safety pin type of fibula had fallen into disuse. Crossbow fibulae were worn as a symbol of rank in the Roman army and civil service.