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Celtic Fibulae

Fibulae of the Celtic peoples of late Iron Age Europe. These are divided into La Tene phases I, II and III which coincide with early, middle and late La Tene. Though the fibula types were in widespread use across western, central and eastern Europe there were a few regional variations that deserve separate entry, such as the Geto-Dacian group.

La Tène I

Dates: c. 480 - 320/275 BC, alternately 400 - 200 BC.

Notes: The foot is bent upwards to almost touch bow, though there is sometimes a small space between. This part of the foot sometimes ends in an animal head design.

Image: Drawing of a La Tene I, or La Tene A, fibula. The foot is turned up and just touches, but does not connect to, the bow. This example has a bilateral spring with four large diameter winds. This example was found in south Wales. The image is from Houlder, C. and Manning W.H. South Wales, Regional Archaeologies. (1966).

La Tène II

Dates: c. 320/275 - 150 BC, alternately 200 - 100 BC.

Notes: The foot is bent upwards and is attached (tied) to the bow, often by two little wings or extensions which wrap around the bow. The bend at the end of the foot can be rounded or pointed.

Image: The foot on this La Tene II, or Middle La Tene, fibula bends up at the end and is tied, or clipped, to the bow. The waviness of the middle part of the bow is due to damage during burial and was not part of the design. (SC collection)

Image: The foot on this iron La Tene II fibula bends up at the end and is clipped to the bow. This fibula is large - 12.3 cm long (almost 5"). Part of the foot is missing. (SC collection)

Image: The four different view the small La Tene II fibula.  This fibula is 43x10x80mm and weighs 2,31g.  (Quadrans collection)

Image: The three different view another small La Tene II fibula.  This fibula is 26x9x2mm and weighs 1,18g. (Quadrans collection)


Dates: c. 1st c BC

Notes: Has a narrow triangular bow form and a bilateral spring usually with six winds.

Diamond Bow

Typology: Orlea-Maglavit type La Tene II fibula

Dates: La Tene C2 - D1, c. 2nd century BC, used until mid-1st century BC.

Notes: Has a wide diamond shaped bow, often with a groove, and a bilateral spring, usually with six winds.

Distribution: According to Aurel Rustoiu ("Les fibules daciques a ornements anthropomorphes") this type belongs to the Padea-Panagjurskii  Celtic culture and originates in the lower Danube region (southern Romania and northern Bulgaria).

Image: Orlea-maglavit (diamond bow) type of La Tene II fibula. The foot is broken and would have turned up and lain along the bow. (SC collection)

La Tène III

Dates: c. 150 - 30/1 BC

Notes: The form is very similar to the La Tène II fibula, however, the bow is cast and thus the foot is attached and not tied on.

Almgren 65

Dates: c. 50 BC - AD 50

Notes: Has knots on bow (vestigial remnants of foot ties) and a wide head.


Description:  A family of La Tene I fibulae found in the lower Danube region and belonging to the Geto-Dacian cultures.  The consist of a short unilateral (the loops are only to one side of the bow) spring, a fairly high arch which ends in a sharp bend, and a high foot ending in a button or knob.  The pin-rest, usually fairly short, is located where the bow and foot meet.

Typology: Several variations are described by Vlad Vintila Zirra in "Bemerkungen zu den Thrako-Getischen Fibeln".

Type I have a straight foot with a round, faceted, or mushroom shaped knob at the end.

Variations: a) thin bow, short foot; b) thin bow, long foot, c) thick round bow, d) thick faceted bow.

Type II have a straight foot that swells at the end to widen into an inverse cone.

Variations: a) thin bow, b) thick round bow, c) thick faceted bow.

Type III have an S-bend in the foot, which ends in a knob.

Variations: a1) thin bow, a2) thicker bow, b) very thick round bow, c) very thick faceted bow, d) wide "leech" bow.

Dating: The form of the foot, and therefore Type, have no bearing on the date.  However, the form of the bow (thus the variation) does.  Thin bow variations date circa 350 - 300 BC.  Thick round bow date circa 310 - 265 BC.  Thick faceted bows, and the "leech" bow, date circa 300 - 240 BC.

Distribution: Geto-Dacian La Tene fibula are found in the lower Danube region (Romania and northern Bulgaria).


Image: Three different views of a small Geto-Dacian broochsize: 33,5x13,5x5,5mm, weight: 3,39g.  This example has an S-bend in the foot and has a wide thick (leech shaped) bow.  It is therefore Type IIId and dates to circa 300 - 240 BC.  (Quadrans Collection)