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Copper alloy and silver buckle and belt plate

 

Length: 5.800 cm

Gift of the Trustees of the Estate of F.W. Surridge

M&ME 1970,4-6,26

Prehistory and Europe

    Copper alloy and silver buckle and belt plate

    Late Roman provincial, 5th century AD
    From Mucking, Essex, England

    Decorated in the quoit brooch style

    This robust belt set, designed to secure a wide leather belt, is one of the best surviving examples of a type used by Late Roman auxiliary troops serving in northern Europe and England. It was found in place on a dead man during excavations in 1967, together with three matching plates that stiffened the belt at the back. Objects like these provide archaeological evidence of the stationing and the settlement by the Roman government of military troops in existing villages and towns. There is evidence of this kind of settlement at Mucking, perhaps to guard the approach to the River Thames in late fourth- to fifth-century London. Interestingly, belt sets like this have been found in the graves of women, who must have married settled or retired military men.

    The sides of the triangular ends of the buckle and belt plate are formed by quadrupeds in the quoit brooch style, popular in the first half of the fifth century. These flank a stylized mask at the apex of the buckle. The central panels and the surrounding areas are filled with chip-carved spirals and interlocking key motifs emphasized with silver wire. The human faces, animal bodies and other features are overlaid with sheets of silver.

    V. Evison, 'Quoit Brooch style buckles', The Antiquaries Journal-9, 48 (1968), pp. 71-102

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