Romano-British Silver Hippocampus Brooch

£ 650.00

A Roman silver zoomorphic plate fibula depicting a hippocampus. The brooch depicts a stylised form of the mythical creature, which features a slender head that widens into an undulating neck and body. The rear of the body then tapers into a curled fin, styled artistically at the same height as the opposing head, giving balance to the overall piece. Incised detailing has been used to decorate the brooch further, with linear patterns for the mane and a circular cell to the body. To the reverse is a hinge, which would of once held a pin. The catch plate is also partly fragmented.

Date: Circa 1st Century AD
Provenance: Acquired in the 1990s. Ex Cambridgeshire, UK, collection.
Condition: Fine. Pin missing to the reverse and fragmented catch plate. Slight distortion to the rear of the brooch.
Product Code: RES-202
Category: Tags: ,

Brooches were used as practical accessories to help keep cloaks, trousers and other pieces of clothing fastened. The accessories were also an expression of status, with many brooches being made of expensive materials. The more elaborate the design also indicated the status of the wearer. Plate brooches which are categorised as thin, bronze fibula with a hinge pin, appeared suddenly within the 1st century. Zoomorphic brooches were the most popular of plate brooches and the horse was a frequent depiction. The horse within both Roman and Celtic culture was highly prized and highly important. Regularly used as an emblem artistically, it was thought to be a symbol of victory, power and pride.

The Hippocampus was a mythological creature, driving the chariot of Poseidon across the sea. It was thought to have the forepart of a horse and the rear fin of a fish or sea creature. Whilst not as popular as the lone horse or horse and rider type, examples of the hippocampus fibulae exist with enamel decoration and without. Those without tend to be earlier in date, with enamelled plate brooches becoming popular from the 2nd century.

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

Dimensions L 3.1 x H 1.7 cm



Central Europe, North Europe, Western Europe

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