- Museum number
Copper alloy harness fitting, phalera and loop junction. An ornate, but badly-damaged, corroded, and heavily-cleaned junction phaiera, with a convex back and dished front face. The perimeter of the flat-rim is ornamented with a regular series of small perforated circular projections, five between each of the three rectangular suspension rings, and one on each side of the rings themselves. Two of the rings were for strap loops, but the third held pendant 1814,0705.8. In the five surviving complete projections a pin of contrasting copper-alloy occupies the perforation. Although the fragmentary state of the phaiera prevents certainty, the spacing of the circular projections argues against the fourth ring restored in Townley's drawing (Townley 1815: pi. IV, 6), and the phaiera was probably a two-way strap junction with pendant. Two of the rings are badly damaged, but one retains its crossbar of plump D-shaped cross-section. Both plates of the surviving strap loop (Bishop's Type 5a) are broken, and one side of its bow has sheared away. Nevertheless, its rich decor is evident: the bow had an axial zone of incuse herring-bone decoration flanked by a groove and a channelled moulding, while the front plate was ornamented with a repeating sugar-loaf motif, also flanked by a groove and a channelled moulding. In one of the grooves is the last vestige of a black niello inlay, which almost certainly originally filled the grooves and background of both decorative incuse zones of the loop (see nos 8 and 35 below). Remains of a punctim design or inscription can be seen on the broken end of the plate. The fine decoration of the loop and the complexity of the phaiera are in contrast to the rough finish of its front face, where file marks on the rim and working marks on the dished surface are still plainly visible, and there is no doubt that a decorative overlay, probably including silver foil, was once attached. A silver-coloured deposit on the front face of a side bar of one of the broken rings is probably the remains of the tin-lead solder. The configuration of the edges of the torn centre of the disc imply a raised central boss c. 25 mm in diameter, and this is consistent with the ornamentation of the close and only known parallel piece, a complete phaiera amongst the suite of harness fittings in Pit LV at Newstead (Curie 1911: 298-299, pi. L.XXII, 9 and fig. 43), which still retains its central silver boss and surrounding moulded silver overlay. Its date is late 1st century AD.
- Production date
Diameter: 85 millimetres
Length: 108 millimetres
Weight: 94.10 grammes
Width: 24.50 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Ribchester hoard
Roman Britain, late 1st or early 2nd century AD
From Ribchester, Lancashire
This hoard of military metalwork and other itens was found in 1796 by a clogmaker's son playing behind his father's house in the village of Ribchester. Ribchester was the site of a Roman fort, and the hoard seems to have been placed in storage in a wooden box, probably beneath a barrack block floor, in about AD 120. Until then the fort had been garrisoned by a cavalry regiment, the Ala II Asturum, and the hoard, possibly the belongings of a single soldier, consists mainly of cavalry equimpent.
Most striking is the two-piece vizor helmet, which was worn in cavalry sports events (hippika gymnasia), colourful displays in which both horse and rider were dressed in elaborate clothing and metal fittings.
The perforated bronze domes to the left of the helmet are a pair of horse eye-guards, and below them is a set of highly-decorated horse brass, including (to the right of the helmet) a mount with a bust of Minerva, goddess of war and wisdom. The broken discs in the centre foreground are the remains of military awards, while on the right are three bronze pans and a pottery mixing bowl (mortarium). The other objects include parts of two saddle plates and a boar's tusk amulet (good luck charm).
- On display (G49/dc8)
- Exhibition history
2003 26 Apr-24 Aug, USA, Lexington, Kentucky Horse Park, All the Queen’s Horses
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number