Colchester Derivative

The following brooches down to and including Brooch 13 had the axis bar of the separately made springs passing through the lower of two holes in a plate projecting behind the head of the bow, the chord passing through the upper.

7 sf. 300 This is the one kind of Colchester Derivative found in the King Harry Lane cemetery: G.316.4, Phase 3. The lower bow and catch-plate of a brooch, the central face of which has a line of rocker-arm down it. The solid catch-plate has a pin-groove.


The bottom 30mm of the bow of a Colchester derivative brooch which has a flat back and a broad central rib with concave sides. The central rib has a line of rocker-arm running down the lower 15mm and the outer edges have an incised line which extends 20mm up the bow and then stops. There is a deep unperforated catch-plate extending 12 mm up the bow which has a catch-groove finish-formed by filing with a round file 2.5mm in diameter.

8 sf. 99 The lower bow of a brooch very similar to the last too damaged for it to be definitely ascribed to the same family.



The lower part of the bow and the catch-plate of a brooch. The fragment swells out slightly at the lower end. The catch-plate is unperforated and extends 20mm up the oval section bow. The catch-groove appears to have been filed. Possibly the end of a Colchester B type brooch.


Both members of the Harlow type which a recent review has shown runs from just before the conquest to about 75/80 (Mackreth 1996,306-313, fig.95,27).

9 sf. 299 The wings are plain and join the edges of the bow which has a step above them and a strongly projecting central face. The lower bow, with the catch-plate, is missing.



The top part of a Colchester two-piece type brooch which originally had a spring of eight coils, only four of which remain. The axis bar is of copper alloy and there is a round topped crest which extends the length of the remaining part of the brooch, vestigial of the hook on the Colchester one-piece type. 50-80AD.

10 sf. 275 The lower bow of a brooch similar to either Brooch 8 or 9.



The bottom part of a bow with a round topped central rib having a cavetto moulding on each side. The bow tapers to a blunt point with no foot knob and a there is a plain catch-plate which extends 17mm up the bow.

The lower bow constituting Brooch 10 is related to Brooch 9 on the section alone: there is no guarantee that the upper bow would have been the same. That being so, neither belongs to a properly isolated group of Colchester Derivatives and all that can be offered here is the general date range of the later 1st century to the third quarter of the 2nd.

11 sf. 212 The plate behind the head is more or less a direct continuation of the top of the bow. Both wings and bow are plain. The solid catch-plate has a line of rocker-arm ornament along the junction with the bow and another across the top.



A small Colchester type two-piece brooch of length 36mm with fairly long wings (6mm), typical of its type. The spring and pin are missing but for a stub of chord passing through a hole in the top of the lug. There is no trace of rust in the axis bar hole which suggests the use of a copper alloy axis bar. The top of the bow is humped but there is no sign of the usual distinctive crest on this example. The bow is undecorated except for a row of rocker-arm along the junction of bow and catch-plate on the inside of the catch-plate only. The very large unperforated catch-plate extends 19mm up the bow. 50-75AD.

12 sf. 174 The plate behind the head of the bow runs over the top to form a short crest, otherwise the wings and bow are plain.



A small Colchester two-piece type brooch of length 30mm, very similar in design to No. 11. The pin and spring are missing but for a stub of chord in the top of the lug. The patination colour of this stub of chord is much darker than that of the body of the brooch which suggests that a different formulation of alloy was used for the spring gear. There is no trace of rust in the axis bar hole which would perhaps indicate the use of a copper alloy axis bar. The top of the bow has a square section crest, vestigial of the hook on the Colchester one-piece type. The bow is of round facetted section with an unperforated catch-plate, less heavy than No. 11. 50-75AD.

Brooch 11 is a member of a highly distinctive group which tends to have very narrow bows and the same layout of holes in the plate behind the head of the bow and this is the feature of Brooch 12 which associates the two. The other characteristic of the main group is the absence of decoration except on the catch-plate, that on Brooch 11 being typical. The group is centred on the south-west part of Northamptonshire and the areas around. The area of distribution is fairly restricted which means that few have been published. The available dating is: Bancroft Mausoleum, 1/25-50 (Mackreth 1994, 9, fig.131,9); Quinton, 50-60 (Friendship-Taylor 1979, 135, fig.63,471); Bancroft villa, late 3rd-early to mid-4th century (Mackreth 1994, 298, fig.135,41). This spread of dates should mean that the brooch belongs at least to the 3rd quarter of the 1st century, the last example obviously being residual in its context.

13 sf. 278 There is a skeuomorph of the Colchester's hook. The surviving wing is very small and plain. The broad bow has a groove down each side and a curved face between with lightly marked cross-cuts. The lower bow is missing.



The head of a large Colchester two-piece type brooch with eight coils and a copper alloy axis bar. The bow is broad and flattish with a marginal rib on either side of a broad convex moulding. The top of the bow has a square topped crest tapering to a point vestigial of the hook on the Colchester one-piece type. Below the crest the central moulding has a series of seven fine lateral lines cut across it. The spring gear is set towards the face of the bow and the short (4mm), plain wings are moulded fully below the axis of the spring. The result is that the spring gear would have been highly visible when the brooch was in use. 50-80AD.

Again not a member of an established group, but whose prominent imitation of the hook on the Colchester should indicate a 1st century date rather than one entirely in the 2nd.

14 sf. 330 The axis bar of the wire pin was inserted in a slot in the back of the wings which were then closed round it. The pin is of wire wound round the axis bar. Each wing has a sunken moulding at its end. The bow has an elongated triangular boss at its head with a line of cross-cuts on each side. The rest of the bow is plain and tapers down to a cross-moulding above a conical foot.



A small brooch of length 32mm. The pin is missing but a remnant remains hinged on an iron axis bar in long slender wings, the tips of which are decorated with an incised line. The tapering bow of flattish section, has a lateral rib at the junction with the head. Beneath this, the top third of the bow is decorated with a convex triangular moulding vestigial of the Dolphin type's hump. The ribs which define this feature are knurled and carry traces of gilding. The bottom of the bow returns forward, swelling out to form a foot which is accentuated by a fairly deep, thin lateral rib above. A very deep unperforated catch-plate extends 17mm up the bar and has traces of gilding on the catch side. 50-150AD.

An example of one design in a group of brooches employing a few motifs to great effect amongst which the lower bow can be a fantail, with ring-and-dot ornament, and the upper bow can have a beaded central ridge. However, the foot, when not a fantail, and the wings are typical. The manner of holding the pin is also typical ranging from several turns of the wire down to a proper hinged pin. It might be suspected that the latter are the latest form. The family has recently been reviewed (Mackreth 1996, 301, fig.93,9-11) and the few that have been published from dated context indicate a range from the 1st to the mid-late 2nd century.

15 sf. 78 Each wing is short and has a sunken moulding at its end. Only the top of the bow survives. It has a square top on which is the base of a cast-on loop and two elongated rectangular cells for enamel, now missing.



A portion of a brooch consisting of fairly short tubular moulded wings containing an iron axis bar and the remains of the hinged pin. Each wing tip has a single forward facing moulding 1mm wide. A broken, seemingly plain chain loop, rises from the top of the bow. After a sharp downturn, the bow tapers and has two empty rectangular enamel panels between 1 lateral and 3 longitudinal ribs. This bow type with hinged pin and chain loop is the most common arrangement for this class of Lower Severn type T-shaped brooch. As the name suggests, this type is concentrated around the Lower Severn area with only eight percent scattered beyond neighbouring counties. Probably Hull's type 111. 50-150AD

An example of an uncommon group which can have either the hinged pin, as here, or the Polden Hill spring system in which the spring is mounted between pierced plates at the ends of the wings. The rest of the brooch would have had mouldings just below the enamelled part and would then have tapered to a decorative foot. The type is found mainly in the South West, but spreads up the Severn Valley and out towards the East as far as this site and others in the same general zone. The dating is mainly 2nd century, most being lost before 175.

16 sf. 62 Iron. The bow has a narrow section, probably rounded, its top expanding to be rolled over to hold the axis bar of the pin.



A large, iron brooch of length 66mm. The spring arrangement is uncertain although the brooch seems to have short wings with no obvious chord or hook. There are perhaps three coils on each side of the spring. The heavy bow is of round section and sweeps to the foot in one continuous curve. The catch-plate remnant extends 20mm up the length of the bow and appears likely to have been perforated.

Iron brooches were much more common before the conquest after which they become a rarity, except for those like this one which are poorly dated. The odd feature here is that the head is rolled-over for the axis bar of the pin and this should be a guarantee of a post-conquest date. The dating favours the second half of the 1st century, but there are signs that some were being consigned to the ground in the early 2nd.

17 sf. 185 The head is lost. The bow is almost straight sided with a triangular back, a step on each side of the front whose main face is curved. Just above the square foot are two groups of cross-cuts. The catch-plate is largely missing, but had a flange across the top and at least two circular holes.



A fragment of an oval section bow of a large, heavy brooch. The bow has a convex moulding which covers most of its width with just a slight marginal rib down each side. Four lateral grooves are cut across the bar just above the foot and another group of six thinner grooves are cut across 15mm further up. Part of a heavy gauge catch-plate remains with a large decorative perforation consisting of two round holes linked and extended by a long perforation which curves towards the bow. The foot of the bow and catch-plate are cut off squarely.

18 sf. 173 Only the foot of the bow with most of the catch-plate is present. The very thin bow has two large nicks at its foot.



A large unperforated catch-plate and the bottom of a very thin bow which is insufficient for certain classification. The whole is undecorated except for two notches near the foot of the bow. A thin bar like this example is seen on La Tène III type brooches such as No. 36.

Brooch 17 is a Colchester Derivative, the other is assumed to have been one. There are no obvious associations for the first, but the flange across the top of the catch-plate, coupled with the presence of at least three circular holes, points to a date in the first two decades after the conquest. There is little to say about Brooch 18, the nicks in the foot may indicate a later 1st into the 2nd century date.