Small brooches like this one were worn by both Roman soldiers and subjects across the empire. They served both a decorative and practical function, being used to fasten articles of clothing, particularly cloaks. Archaeological evidence suggests that the centres of Roman brooch production were in the provinces of Britannia and Gaul. The design of this plate brooch is simple, but nevertheless it would have served as a symbol of class or status due to its quality and materiality.
This type of brooch, classed as a skeuomorphic fibula, can be identified as a sandal sole. Amongst the brooches based on inanimate objects, it was the second most popular group, with the wheel-type as the most popular and followed by the axe and dagger types. Whilst the wheel and axe would have had apotropaic symbolism, the sandal-types popularity is unclear.
To discover more on Roman and Celtic brooches, please see our relevant blog post: Roman and Celtic Fibulae