Roman Silver Bangle

Almost 1,700 years ago on the Isle of Wight, a mile east of the present Garlic Farm, in a similar combe below the Downs, was a house, not large enough to be called a villa but obviously belonging to someone of means. Outside of the main house was a walled courtyard, probably with vines and apricots trained on the south facing walls.

This family were certainly wealthy enough to import marble table tops from the marble quarries near Rome, to eat off smooth, polished red Samian ware and to adorn themselves with rings and armbands made abroad and by local craftsmen. One of the daughters of the house wore a pleated bronze armband on her left hand.

The band is a lovers knot, each part supporting and entwining with the other, signifying equilibrium, harmony and strength, adjusting to the needs and demands of two lives enacted together.

The bracelet can be adjusted to fit the wearer.

Facing down the Yar valley to Bembridge harbour, one could see ships arriving from the Solent to moor at Brading. The other side of the hill on the site of the current Dinosaur museum, ships sailed in on the tide to beach and unload below the Brading villa.

From about the year 300AD Saxon and Jutish raiders were increasingly common, raiding in the spring and summer months. Forts were built from Portsmouth round to Norfolk under the control of local magnates with the title Count of the Saxon Shore. Portchester Castle, just outside Portsmouth, is the finest surviving example.

In about 380AD, a raiding party ransacked the house. Within the burning building lay the body of the lady with the armband. We can only conjecture on her fate but young women were more valuable alive than dead, so perhaps there was some struggle. A wall had collapsed on her where she lay. Her extended arm with the armband was just clear of the rubble. Pieces of broken marble tabletop lay around her.

There can have been few of the local population left because her body and armband were exposed long enough to become covered by weeds and soil. They lay there undisturbed for 1,700 years until the site was discovered in the 1990s and excavated as the subject of a Time Team programme.

The bronze armband was taken to the Island silversmith Theodosia in Newport and an exact copy was made in silver. This was then taken to a craft British silversmith who faithfully reproduced it in the best quality .925g silver. The weight of each armband is 28g; that is 1 ounce. Each armband carries the stamp of the Birmingham assay office confirming its quality.

The armband can be adjusted to the wearer's wrist.

The design of the armband reflects a Celtic influence with its C cedilla motif.



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