History Files


Roman Britain

Brooch Discovery

BBC News, 17 May 2006

Archaeologists hope that a small brooch uncovered at a Roman fort, may reveal secrets about the men who built Hadrian's Wall.

The soldier's expensive and prestigious cloak brooch was found at Vindolanda Roman settlement in Northumberland.

It belonged to Quintus Sollonius, part of a detachment of legionary soldiers sent to assist in the building of the 74-mile long wall which was erected between AD 121-127.

Historians examining the artefact describe it as a "fantastic find".

The brooch, which is just under four centimetres (two inches) in diameter, incorporates the figure of Mars, the Roman god of war, wearing body armour and sandals, standing alongside two wide shields.

These shields could mean Quintus Sollonius was a veteran of campaigns against the Dacians in what is now Romania conducted by the emperor Hadrian's predecessor, Trajan.

'Big and flashy'

Robin Birley, Vindolanda director of excavations, said: "It is a fantastic find because nothing like this has ever been seen before.

"It is further proof that there were legionnaires in Northumberland at the time of the building of Hadrian's Wall."

Mr Birley added that the brooch was a very impressive object and showed that Quintus Sollonius was a very senior soldier - probably a non-commissioned officer with at least twenty years' experience.

"It is a very expensive object and he would have been very annoyed to have lost the brooch, which fastened the cloak at the shoulder.

"But it is quite big and flashy and difficult to lose, so one suspects that perhaps it was stolen."



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