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Penannular Fibula, c. 50 B.C. - 400 A.D.

Penannular fibulae are one of the three classes of fibulae; the other two classes are bow fibulae (class B) and plate fibulae (class C). Penannular means of an incomplete ring form. Penannular fibula use a rotary fastener pin. Ring and omega brooches held the fabric pieces together in a completely different way than the other fibulae closure constructions. The cloth was pierced at the desired location. The needle tip was passed between the ends of the ring. The ring was then rotated 90 degrees under the needle tip. The fabric pressed the needle on the hanger and kept the fibula closed. Riha reports that penannular Fibulae persisted throughout the Roman period.

Rotary fastener pin image from Riha, E. Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst. (1979). PDF

Penannular Fibula Groups (A1 - A2)

Their are dozens of types and varieties of penannular fibulae, but all are included in two penannular groups. 

Group A1: Ring Fibulae. Ring fibula include all penannular fibulae that are not omega fibula.

Group A2: Omega Fibulae. Omega fibula are penannular fibula with the terminals bent outward, with the result that the fibula has the shape of the Greek letter omega ().

Group A1: Ring Fibulae

A sample of ring fibulae types from Riha, E. Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst. (1979). PDF

Coiled Penannular Fibulae

Notes:  These penannular fibulae end in small coils.

Image: The body of this fibula has been twisted into a rope-like form. The ends are curled up or coiled.

Image:  A large Penannular fibula, with rectangular cross-section, 35x36mm, 6,19g. (Quadrans Collection)

Folded-Over Penannular Fibulae

Typology: Böhme 51b; Genceva 35

Dates: AD 100 - 400. Flourished AD 350 - 400. According to other sources AD 275 - 400.

Distribution: Britain, Raetia, eastern Europe

Notes: The ends of these penannular fibulae are folded over.

Image:  Penannular fibula. 25x27mm, 3,69g. (Quadrans Collection)

Knobbed Penannular Fibulae

These penannular fibulae end in knobs.

Image:  Penannular fibula with spherical knobs.  These knobs have a twisted ridge design. 29x29mm, 5,01g. (Quadrans Collection.)

Image: Drawing of a penannular fibula with faceted cuboid end knobs. The fibula is late-Viking or early Medieval Rus. The image is from Korzukhina, G.F. Russian Treasures IX to XIIIth Centuries. USSR Academy of Sciences. (Moscow, 1954).

Zoomorphic Terminal Penannular Fibulae

These penannular fibulae end in stylized animal heads.

Penannular Fibulae with Extension

Typology: Ring fibulae.  Instead of the terminals on penannular fibulae these fibulae have a squarish extension, often decorated, which serves as the pin-rest.

Dates: c. AD 250 - 350

Distribution: possibly Danubian origin, found throughout the Roman Empire.

Notes: The large penannular fibulae have a rectangular extension where the pin ends. According to some sources these might actually be large buckles.

Image:  Penannular fibula with extension with two kidney-shaped "eyes", the pin is missing, 63,5x56,5mm, 30,96g. (Quadrans Collection.)

Group A2: Omega Fibulae

Typology: Genceva 34

Dates: 500 BC - AD 400. Especially prevalent 50 BC - AD 250 in Roman contexts, and AD 200 - 400 in Germanic contexts. Remained in use, especially in northern Europe, until the 11th century AD.

Distribution: Britain, Rhine, Germany, Iberia during the Roman era. Northern and northwestern Europe afterwards.

Notes: The ends of this sub-group of penannular fibulae are turned out, away from each other, giving the fibula the overall appearance of the Greek letter omega.

Image:  A Silver Omega fibula. 27,5x30mm, 3,64g. (Quadrans Collection)

A sample of omega fibulae types from Riha, E. Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst. (1979). PDF


Bohme, A. "Die Fibeln der Kastelle Saalburg und Zugmantel" in Saalburg Jahrbuch, XXIX. (1973).
Genceva, E. Les Fibules Romaines de Bulgarie de la fin du 1er s. av. J.-C. à la fin du VIe s. ap. J.-C. (Veliko Trnovo, 2004).
Korzukhina, G. Russian Treasures IX to XIIIth Centuries. USSR Academy of Sciences. (Moscow, 1954).
Riha, E. Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst. (1979). PDF
Sellye, I. "Ringfibeln mit Ansatz aus Pannonien" in Savaria 19/1 (Szombathely, 1990). pp. 17 - 106.
Sedlmayer, H. Die römischen Fibeln von Wels. (Wels, 1995). PDF

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