Romano-British Bronze Zoomorphic Plate Brooch

£ 550.00

A Romano-Celtic bronze zoomorphic brooch, depicting a frog. The body of the animal is formed from a tapering, rectangular plate, forming the arched bow of the fibula. The plate restricts to form the rounded snout of the frog and a short stub for his tail. Incised, undulating lines decorate the head, representing the dappled skin of the amphibian. Two raised nodules protrude from the surface, acting as the eyes, decorated with blue enamel. There are two rectangular recessed cells situated on the body of the fibula. A row of vertical, round indentations decorate the cells, which are set with coloured inlays of yellow and green enamel. There are two flanking pairs of small triangular limbs projecting from the sides, one set near the pointed head and one set at the rear end. Linear grooves mark the webbed feet of the frog. The reverse of the brooch includes a double-lugged hinge and a catchplate for the pin, which is now missing.

Date: Circa 2nd century AD
Provenance: Ex Cambridge collection, ex Gorny & Mosch Sale 231, 17th June 2015, lot 272 (part), ex Slg. D.K., acquired circa 1980s.
Condition: Very good. One enamel cell missing and fins missing on right side. Original pin also lost.


Product Code: RES-200
Categories: , Tags: , , , , ,

Zoomorphic brooches were a common theme and make up a substantial amount of the repertoire available. Aquatic animals were popular, although frogs are more scarce than other motifs. Frogs appear in both Roman mythology and Celtic. To the former, they were emblems of fertility and harmony between two lovers. Thus they were dedicated to Venus and imbued with a sense of licentiousness. To the Celts, frogs were associated with rivers, wells and water, making them a sacred emblem. They were thought to bring good luck and harmony and were often worn for their apotropaic values.

Brooches such as this were most arguably continental in origin, rather than made in Britain by local craftsmen.

To discover more on Roman and Celtic brooches, please see our relevant blog post: Roman and Celtic Fibulae

Dimensions L 3.5 x W 1.5 cm



Central Europe, North Europe, Western Europe

Reference: For similar: The Morgan Library & Museum, USA, item 2012.2:4

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