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Silver hairpin

Roman era, 4th or early 5th century.

Found during excavations by the Archaeological Section of the Winchester Museum Service at St. Martin's Close, Winnall, Winchester, 1984-5.

This beautiful hairpin with a head in the shape of a floating duck was found in the grave of a child of about seven years of age. It was found to the right of the child's head, suggesting that it was worn in the hair at the time of burial. Distinguishing between male and female in children's bones is usually impossible without DNA analysis, but the hairpin tells us that it was most likely a girl.

Residents of this part of Winchester's eastern Roman cemetery rarely received grave goods, but those that were found tended to be of high quality, indicating the high status of the population group. The way people were buried is in some respects well comparable to the Christian cemeteries of the late Roman period in the Mediterranean and Near East.