Norfolk Brooch

Gold brooch find a first for Norfolk
The first example to be recorded in Norfolk of a very rare gold Roman brooch was found by a metal detector, it hasd been revealed.

Norfolk Museum and Archaeology Service (NMAS) is now keen to acquire the “significant” piece, which dates from the third or fourth century, in order to keep it in the county after it was found in a field in Gunthorpe.

Dr Andrew Rogerson, head of the Finds Identification and Recording Service within the NMAS said it was unique within the county and important in the context of our understanding of the late Roman period.

“It is very rare, extremely unusual and probably very significant. Gold brooches of this type are never common and this is certainly the first to be recorded in Norfolk. We are meant to be cold, calculating professionals who are not supposed to get excited but I was when I saw this.”

The piece, which was found by metal detector user Paul Buckenham on land owned by Stephen Mitchell and his family, is known as a crossbow brooch.

Dr Rogerson said that this style was not particularly rare but no gold example had been seen by professionals in Norfolk, pointing to a former owner’s high status, possibly within the military ranks.

“Most are 90pc copper alloy and very occasionally we see a silver one but never a gold one, just on those grounds alone it is important, and it is quite pure gold.

“It is hard to say exactly who would have worn it but certainly it would not have been sported by just anyone and it would have been someone of quite high status, man or woman, at the end of the Roman period which becomes very interesting.

“This ties in with a lot of other evidence from that period.”

The find was declared treasure by Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong.

It is currently in the hands of the British Museum waiting to be valued. NMAS hopes to then make an offer for its acquisition to Mr Buckenham.

He said it was just one of several treasure finds he had unearthed over the past few years, but it was undoubtedly the rarest.

The brooch is reported as incomplete, missing its crossbar and pin.

It is decorated, with part of the report, compiled by Dr Rogerson for the British Museum, stating: “There are three v-sectioned notches on both edges and between them an engraved saltire and single horizontal line.”


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