Roman Gold-Plated Bronze ''Crossbow'' Fibula, c. 4th Century AD


This fibula (clasp for fastening garments – such as the Roman toga) is complete - except for the iron fastening pin. Much of the gold-plating is evident.  It is an excellent example of the typical "Crossbow" style favored by Roman Legionary Soldiers, though very few were gold-plated.  The front of the bow and catchplate are decorated with geometric designs and the patina is a superb earthen green. (59 x 41 mm – 2 1/4 x 1 5/8”)

Ref: Johns “The Jewellery of Roman Britain,” pages 166-168.  For a similar example of the “Crossbow” fibula see Metropolitan Museum “Mirror of the Medeval World,” page 18. 

The fibula was in widespread use throughout the ancient world. The Roman conquests spread the use of the fibula, which became the basis for more complicated brooches. In the severe climate of northern Europe, it routinely functioned as a fastening for a heavy cloak or tunic. The “safety-pin” type of fibula/brooch continued to be used up into the Middle Ages, serving both as functional and decorative elements. 

  • Inventory# PA-3259