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Gold body-chain from the Hoxne hoard


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Length: 84.000 cm (extended)
Length: 84.000 cm (extended)
Length: 84.000 cm (extended)

P&EE 1994 4-8 1

Room 49: Roman Britain

    Gold body-chain from the Hoxne hoard

    Roman Britain, buried in the 5th century AD
    Found at Hoxne, Suffolk (1992)

    A very rare type of jewellery

    The Hoxne (pronounced 'Hoxon') hoard is the richest find of treasure from Roman Britain. Alongside the approximately 15,000 coins were many other precious objects, buried for safety at a time when Britain was passing out of Roman control.

    This body-chain is a type of ornament which had a long history and can be seen in representations in both Hellenistic and Roman art, but actual examples are extremely rare. The chains passed over the shoulders and under the arms of the wearer, with a decorative focus where they join on the chest and the back. This example is very small indeed, and could only have been worn by an unusually slender, perhaps very young, woman. The two plaques where the chains join comprise a gold coin of Emperor Gratian (reigned AD 367-383) in a decorative mount, and an oval setting for nine gems, a central amethyst, four garnets, and four empty round settings which probably contained pearls, now completely decayed.

    C.M. Johns and R. Bland, 'The Hoxne late Roman treasure', Britannia, 25 (1994), pp. 165-73

    R. Bland and C.M. Johns, The Hoxne Treasure, an illustr (London, The British Museum Press, 1993)


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