Beyond Typology: Late Iron Age and Early Roman Brooches in Northern France

Mel Edgar

Knotenfibel or Arc Interrompu Brooch (and also my hand!)

Brooches, as small, portable objects, provide an excellent means of answering revelatory questions about society and identity.

By asking who was wearing brooches, how and in what contexts, we can query long held assumptions about modes of dress and adornment. Beyond that however, brooches also help up shed light on ritualised practices, such as deposition.

Examining over 2000 archaeologically contexted Late Iron Age and Early Roman brooches from northern France, I observed that they were rarely stand-alone finds; as expected of lost or casually discarded objects.

In fact, brooches were most often recorded in stratified contexts, with weaponry, human bone and other objects, most often in association with burnt material. More revelatory was that these mixed deposits were found throughout the Late Iron Age and Early Roman periods and at all settlement types.

Within the context of Late Iron Age depositionary practices, the demonstrate the brooch’s centrality within a range of ritualised practices that were more complex and varied than previously assumed.

To find out more, read my thesis- available online.

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