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Roman metalwork: Coins & Jewellery

Bradford on Avon Museum, Wiltshire

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a coin of the Roman Emperor Maxentius.

Bradford on Avon Museum holds a few Roman coins, mostly from the area around the St Laurence School Roman Villa. This well-preserved copper-alloy coin was found near Winsley, just to the west of Bradford. It was minted in the reign of Marcus Aurelius Valerius Maximianus Herculius (usually just referred to as Maximian), who reigned as the Roman co-emperor between 286 and 310.

Roman coins were found in the grounds of the Priory near the centre of the town in 1818, but have since disappeared. The historian-vicar Canon Jones in 1859 reported coins of Antoninus Pius (c150AD), Victorinus, Tetricus, Carausius, Allectus, Constantine the Great, Crispus, Valens, Valentinian and Constantine II (3rd and 4th centuries) that had been found around Bradford, mostly from the Budbury area on the hill above the town. Coins in the date range of 142-52 AD were found below the edge of the hill at Conkwell in 1868, A large hoard of 3,466 low-value 3rd century coins was discovered in Monkton Farleigh in 1980, of which 42 are now in the British Museum and another hoard of coins in a pot in Monkton Farleigh, “about a peck’s weight” (although a peck is a measure of volume), was found in about 1826, but nothing more is known. Twenty-two coins, including of Trajan, Valentinian and Constantine, were reported by Rev Wilkinson in 1859 to have been found around a site in Broughton Gifford.

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Roman bow brooch.

This bronze bow-brooch was found near Ashley Road, not far from the villa. It would have worked rather like a safety pin and was used to fasten an item of clothing, such as a cloak. The tip of the sprung pin is missing and so is the clip into which it fitted -perhaps the brooch fell off or was thrown away when these parts broke. It was made in the second half of the 1st century AD.

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Penannular brooch.

This is a simpler fastening, known as a penannular brooch -penannular means ‘almost a ring’. It is a sort of device that was made over a long period from the late Iron Age to Early Medieval. It was found on the Iford estate in Westwood, south-west of Bradford, where the valley of the River Frome is rich in Roman buildings.

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Roman finger ring.

This small Roman bronze finger ring was found in a garden below the edge of the Budbury hillfort. It has a “jewel” of bluish moulded glass, which is still in place. Other pieces of Roman jewellery, including a ring, bronze wire bracelets, enamelled bow brooches and other Roman material have been found in excavations on the top of the hill above.

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