Brooches formed part of a dress for any inhabitant of the Roman world; they served to hold two pieces of a person’s clothing together. Up to now 242 British-made brooches have been identified on 103 sites across Europe. Being made in Roman Britain and brought overseas for the propose of fastening the clothes, their functional aspect started to be overshadowed by other meanings attached to them by the variety of owners, users and viewers brooches have changed during their lifetime. Once the brooches reached their final owners and entered the archaeological record, they acquired the mixture of identities filled with the variety of meanings and associations.

This paper would like to contribute to the second theme of the conference by illustrating the concept of entanglement of objects and things and using as the example British-made brooches found outside the province of their manufacture. In an essence, each brooch is dual in its uniformity having the essentialised (thing-ness) and multifaceted (object-ness) margin, i.e. the boundaries of the brooches’ identities were repositioned in relation to different points of reference (i.e. different users, owners and viewers), although their core identity, as being things, was not erased within the other meanings. The presentation shows how the aspect of entanglement comes into play, when “the thing in its own right” (Hodder 2012, 2) is being an agent of and for other agents without losing its “thinghood”. In this way both thing-ness and object-ness neither precede nor proceed but are firmly entrenched within one another forming a totality, which provides a playground for myriad of identities to be projected.


Hodder, I., Entangled. An archaeology of the relationships between humans and things (Malden 2012).