Description: A bronze crossbow brooch with fine ribbing on the bow and a straight incised central line on the catchplate with two transverse lines at each end and two blind holes on the foot. The brooch has a patchy green brown patina. Probably originally with knobs at the ends of the cross-bar but these are now lost and were probably attached with pins. The pin also lost, found in London (possibly Cheapside).
Size: 70 mm/2.7 ins. in length
Culture: Roman Britain
Date: 3rd to early 4th Century A.D.
Provenance: Ex E.J.W. Hildyard Collection (his inventory number HCF187) and acquired from Dr. H.A. Fawcett in December 1951. Previously in the possession of Robert Barley (1945-2018).
Background: Edward J.W. Hildyard (died 1964) was an English archaeologist and collector active in the first half of the 20th Century. His family seat was Horsley Hall, a fine and extensive country house at Bishop Auckland, County Durham, now a hotel. Passionate about the past he published widely in archaeological journals from the 1930s to the 1950s, demonstrating a particular interest in Roman archaeology. He amassed an important collection of ancient coins and antiquities. His Roman, ancient Indian and British coins were auctioned by Baldwin’s Auctioneers, London, in 2008, and his collection of antiquities has been widely dispersed through leading auction houses and dealers and to museums.
Dr Hugh Alderson Fawcett (1891-1982) was a general practitioner and antiquarian who built up an important collection of ancient implements, weapons and ornaments that eventually numbered some eight thousand items. It was he who alerted the British Museum to the discovery of the fabulous Mildenhall treasure after being shown it by Sydney Ford during Easter in 1946, The bulk of his collection is now in the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, but Fawcett previously sold or traded many pieces in order to improve his collection.
Robert Barley was a leading London antiques dealer noted for his diverse and eclectic interests, who counted Mick Jagger as one of his childhood friends. He traded from a shop in Fulham High Street and the Portobello Road antiques market. He was also a leading exhibitor at many London antiques fairs. He was also an accomplished artist producing extraordinary surrealist sculptures from precious stones and deconstructed antiques.
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