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Enamelled dragon shaped brooches

Roman era, ca. 70-120 AD.

Found during excavations of the archaeological section of the Winchester Museum Service on Victoria Road, Winchester, in the mid to late 1970s.

This pair of lead metal brooches with dragon-shaped enamel comes from a cremation burial in the cemetery at the north gate of Roman Winchester. The grave also contained 22 pots and possibly part of a bone play set that was burned on the funeral pyre. During their lifetime, they probably wore brooches pinned on each shoulder and connected on the chest with a chain.

Most of the dragon brooches were found in the north of England, in what was at that time the tribal territory of the Parisi and the Brigantes. They may have come to Winchester through trade, but it is possible that the person buried in the grave was originally from there or was related to one of them. The richness of the grave goods and the Celtic style of the brooches suggest that this was an important person, but probably not a Roman. Because they were cremated, it is impossible to determine their age and gender, and brooches were worn as clothing clasps by both men and women in Roman Britain.