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Aes Grave
Aes Rude
The Age of Gallienus
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Ancient Coin Collecting 101
Ancient Coin Prices 101
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Armenian Numismatics Page
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Caesarean and Actian Eras
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A Case of Counterfeits
Byzantine Christian Themes
Clashed Dies
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Conditions of Manufacture
Corinth Coins and Cults
Countermarked in Late Antiquity
Danubian Celts
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Diameter 101
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Dictionary of Roman Coins
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Facing Portrait of Augustus
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The Hexastyle Temple of Caligula
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Identifying Ancient Metal Arrowheads
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Julian II: The Beard and the Bull
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Plate Fibulae

Penannular fibulae are one of the three classes of fibulae; the other two classes are penannular fibulae (class A) and bow fibulae (class B). Plate fibulae have a body that is generally flat and wide. The pin usually runs very close to the body. Plate fibulae are thus not useful for fastening fabric together and are usually only decorative. They come in a huge variety of forms and shapes. The essential form of penannular fibulae and bow fibulae is readily apparent, but many so-called plate fibula are not quite plate-like. Some post-Roman Germanic and Slavic fibulae consist of two flat plates connected by a short bow and are known as bow-plate or plate-bow fibulae. For practical purposes, we classify any fibula that is not clearly a penannular fibula or bow fibula within the plate fibula class.

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

Image: A selection of different plate fibula types.

Pin Construction

Plate Fibula with Hinged Pin

Jaw Hinge Brooches. This jaw hinge is characteristic of provincial Roman disc brooches of the 1st and 2nd centuries and was not popular outside the Roman provinces. The jaw hinge consists of two small parallel standing plates ("jaws"), between which the needle is inserted and fixed on an axis (usually iron). The hing is always mounted on the back side of the fibulae or brooch, so it remains invisible in use. The jaw hinge is used exclusively for Roman disc brooches and their relatives (fibula with head plate) in which the construction of the suspension is hidden behind a plate (disc or head plate). The associated needle is usually bent. Triangular to quadrangular (i-m below) solid plate needle holders are characteristic, but now and then they also have a simple perforation.

Plate fibulae with a hinged pins from Riha, E. Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst. (1979). PDF
Plate Fibula with Spring

A spring is attached to the back of the plate, either fitted in a loop or soldered. Such springs are almost always bilateral and usually have three or four loops on each side.

Plate fibulae with spring pins, from Almgren, O. Studien über nordeuropäische Fibelformen. (Liepzig, 1923). PDF

Roman Plate Fibulae

Roman plate fibula are grouped by shape or by applied decoration.

Geometric Plate Fibula

Round, rosette, rhomboid, lunar (crescent), rectangular, star, triangular, wheel, round with dolphins, complex, etc.

Openwork Plate Fibula

Round, symmetrical, Celtic trumpet, pelta, swastika, horse-head swastika, etc.

Enamel Plate Fibula

Round, diamond, openwork, symmetrical, complex, etc.

Letter Plate Fibula

S, P, B, M, N, Roma monogram, etc.

Zoomorphic Plate Fibula

Animals - bird (various types), horse, dog, hare, deer, leopard, lion, frog, fish, sea-horse, fly, etc.

Skeuomorphic Plate Fibula

Objects - axe, sandal, shrine, campgate, cornucopia, musical instrument (various types), phallus, etc.)

Tutulus Fibula

Conical - plain, with knob, enameled, umbonate, etc.

Post-Roman Plate Fibulae

Anglo-Saxon Plate Fibulae


Almgren, O. Studien über nordeuropäische Fibelformen. (Liepzig, 1923). PDF
Baye, J. The Industrial Arts of the Anglo-Saxons. (London, 1893).
Bohme, A. "Die Fibeln der Kastelle Saalburg und Zugmantel" in Saalburg Jahrbuch, XXIX. (1973).
Bojovic, D. Rimske Fibule Singidunuma. Muzej Grada Bograda Serija - Zbirke i Legati Katalog XII. (Beograd, 1983).
Buora, M. Fibule antiche del Friuli. Cataloghi E Monografie Archeologiche Dei Civici Musei Di Udi. (Rome, 2008).
British Museum. Guide to Anglo-Saxon Antiquities. (London, 1923).
Ettlinger, E. Die rimischen Fibeln in der Schweiz. (Bern, 1973).
Feugere, M. Les fibules en Gaule meridionale de la conquite a la fin du Ve sicle apres J.-C. (Paris, 1985). Online
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). PDF
Gugl, C. Die romischen Fibeln aus Virunum. (Klagenfurt, 1995).
Hattatt, R. Brooches of Antiquity. (Oxford, 1987).
Janovic, A. Nakit u rimskoj Dardaniju. (Belgrade, 1978).
Jobst, W. Die römischen Fibeln aus Lauriacum. (Wimmer, Linz, 1975).
Koscevic, R. Antičke fi bule s područja Siska. (Zagreb, 1980). PDF
Matouschek, J & H. Nowak. "Unpublizierte Hasten- und Hundefibeln aus österreichischen Privatsammlungen" in Römisches Österreich, 9/10, (1981 - 1982).
Matouschek, J & H. Nowak. "Unpublizierte Tierfibeln und Fibeln mit theriomorphen Gestaltungselementen aus österreichischen Privatsammlungen" in Römisches Österreich, 13/14, (1985 - 1986).
Riha, E. Die römischen Fibeln aus Augst und Kaiseraugst. (1979). PDF
Schleiermachen, M. "Die römischen Fibeln von Kempten-Cambodunum" in Cambodunumforschungen V. (Kallmunz, 1993).
Van Buchem, H. De Fibulae Van Nijmegen. (Nijmegen, 1941). PDF
Winter, H. "Römische Hakenkreuz Fibeln von österreichischen Fundstellen uas Privatbesitz" in Römisches Osterreich 9/10 (1981/1982), pp. 231 - 251.
Winter, H. "Römische Vogelfibeln von österreichischen Fundstellen aus Privatbesitz" in Römisches Österreich 13/14 (1985/1986), pp. 323 - 369.

Riha Type Finder

3.14 Round disc brooches with press plate rest
3.15 Enameled disk brooches with spiral apparatus
3.16 Round disc brooch with glass medallion in enamel frame
3.17 Hallmarked oval disc brooch with glass insert
3.18 Broken disc brooches
3.19 Roman provincial swastika brooches
3.20 Ax brooches
3.21 Zoomorphic fibulae with spring pin

7.1 Temple (none listed)
7.2 Umbonate (raised center knob or ornament)
7.3 Complex round
7.4 Cruciform
7.5 Lunar (Crescent)
7.6 Spoke wheel with center ornament
7.7 Disc brooches with punched ornamentation
7.8 Disc brooches with glass cabochon
7.9 Brooch with openwork leg rest
7.10 Disc brooches with press plate supports
7.11 Tutulus-like fibulae
7.12 Ring-shaped enamel fibulae
7.13 Enamel fibulae with alternating swatches
7.14 Millefiori ornamented
7.15 Brooch with movable animal sculpture
7.16 Equilateral disc brooches
7.17 Flat multicolored enamel fibulae
7.18 Disc brooches with one symmetry axis
7.19 Fibulas with moving beads
7.20 Complex enamel brooches
7.21 Brooches with medallions
7.22 Zoomorphic with punch decorations
7.23 Shoe sole plate
7.24 Zoomorphic
7.25 Zoomorphic with enamel decorations 

Genceva Plates

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). PDF

VII. Plate fibulae (types 25 - 33; pl. XXV, 1 - XXVIII, 4) [Class C]...115

25. Geometric Plate Fibulae
25a. Rhomboid (pl. XXV, 1-3)
25b. Round (pl. XXV, 4)
25c. Lunar (pl. XXV, 5-8)
        Double crescent (pl. XXV, 6)
        Crescent horns down surmounted by a human head (pl. XXV, 7-8)
25d. Ship's wheel (pl. XXV, 9-10)
25e. Round plate with tiny dolphins(?) (pl. XXV, 11)

26. Tultulus Fibulae (a conical design pressed into a bronze sheet)
26a. Tultulus (conical) (pl. XXV, 12-13)
26b. Tultulus (conical) and enameled (pl. XXV, 14)

27. Skeuomorphic Plate Fibulae (in Form of an Object)
27a. Shoe sole (pl. XXV, 15)
27b. Horn/cornucopia (pl. XXV, 16)
27c. Double ax (pl. XXV, 18)
27d. Ax (pl. XXV, 17)
27e. Shrine (p. XXV, 19)

28. Openwork Plate Fibulae
28a. Adorned central ornament (pl. XXVI, 1-3)
28b. Symmetrical (pl. XXVI, 4-8)

29. Zoomorphic Plate Fibulae
29a. Bird (pl. XXVI, 9-11)
29b. Animal (pl. XXVI, 12-pl. XVII, 4)
        Horse (pl. XXVI, 12-16)
/ Hound (pl. XXVII, 1)
        Rabbit / Hare (pl. XXVII, 2)
        Panther (pl. XXVII, 3)
        Frog (pl. XXVII, 4)

30. Enameled Geometric Plate Fibulae
30a. Simple Symmetrical (pl. XVII, 5-8)
        Cruciform (pl. XXVII, 5)
        Round (pl. XXVII, 6)
        Rhomboid (pl. XXVII, 7-8)
30b. Complex geometric, multi-color enamel (pl. XVII, 9-10)

31. Letter Plate Fibula (Includes Monograms)
31a. Letter (pl. XXVII, 11)
        Letter S
(pl. XXVII, 11)
31b. ROMA monogram (pl. XXVII, 12-14)
31c. Pelta (pl. XXVII, 15-16)

32. Swastika Plate Fibula
32a. Swastika (pl. XXVIII, 1-2)
32b. Horse-head swastika (pl. XXVIII, 3)

33. Other Plate Fibulae Brooches
      Iron Brooch with a stone in center (pl. XXVIII, 4)