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 LATE ROMAN BUCKLES IN BRITAIN 
 9. - TRIANGULAR PLATE 

by Stuart Laycock and Chris Marshall




Triangular Plate
The basic triangular plate buckle comes in a number of variations. This basic type is found widely along the Imperial borders on the continent and shows a high degree of uniformity. The main variations are:- (i) separate loop or fixed plate (1, 2) (ii) open triangle or filled triangle (3, 4)

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LM 9.1 LM 9.2 LM 9.3 LM 9.4

A number of examples (10-14) of the basic type have been found in Britain. An interesting peculiarity of their distribution is that they are found mainly in the south west and south central England. Distribution further east is rare and largely grouped around the Chilterns and Icknield Way area, although a very small number of examples have been found further north. Their distribution raises interesting questions about the presence of different troops in different regions. Could the presence of these buckles in the south and west, but rarely in the east and north, represent some kind of military division, perhaps even military confrontation? The centre of the grouping seems to be somewhere in the area where the Thames cuts the Chilterns, which was an area of inter-tribal tension in pre-Roman times. It also sees militarization at the end of the Roman period, with the heavy fortification of Mildenhall, the presence of a ballista platform at Dorchester on Thames and, a relatively rare this far inland, appearance of chip carved military belt furniture in a grave there.

Triangular Plate and Kidney loop
A rare variation of the basic type features a kidney shaped loop instead of a rounded loop (5, 6, 7). Kidney shaped loops on buckles are not uncommon on the continent, but do seem rare on triangular plate buckles. Two of these are known form Britain. I?m only aware of one from the continent, from Furfooz in Belgium (7). Equally 6 has intricate decoration on its triangular frame, which (see 12, 13) only seems to occur on British triangular plate buckles. All of which means that it is possible the Triangular Plate and Kidney Loop buckles are a British variation and the Furfooz example is an export, or at least, in British style.

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LM 9.5 LM 9.6 LM 9.7

Triangular Plate and dolphins
A rare variation of the basic type, which only seems to occur in Britain, is the Triangular Plate with dolphins only two versions of this are so far known (8, 9).

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LM 9.8 LM 9.9

Triangular Plate Transitional
Where Triangular Plate buckles are found further from their geographical centre, there appears to be a tendency for their form to be subject to more change. (kidney shaped loops and the dolphin triangular plate buckles, for instance, both appear on the edges of the main grouping.) This could also be a chronological effect, with more changes happening in later buckles.

It has been argued that the latest Roman British triangular buckles could be the precursors of the Anglo-Saxon triangular buckles. This is possible, and certainly some British buckles with their flatter loops (10, 11) begin to look more like Anglo-Saxon types, and the Enfield buckle (12) does look quite like a ?missing link? between Roman British and Anglo-Saxon triangular types. In the absence of other Enfield type buckles, however, it is hard to be sure, and it is equally possible that the transition to the later Germanic buckles occurs on the continent and is then imported into England via the well-developed contacts between the Franks and Kent. For another (probably continental) ?missing link? (see 14).

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LM 9.10 LM 9.11 LM 9.12 LM 9.13 LM 9.14


NOTES
9.1 Width not known, found not known, redrawn after eBay; 9.2 Width 30mm, found Wetheringsett cum Brockford, Suffolk, redrawn after PAS - SF8281; 9.3 Width 27mm, found probably Bulgaria, private collection; 9.4 Width not known, found Sparsholt, collection of Brian Cavill; 9.5 Width 31mm, found Stratton sub Castle, Wilts., formerly collection of Brian Cavill; 9.6 Width not known, found Sible Hedingham, Essex, private collection; 9.7 Width 36mm, found Furfooz, redrawn after Sommer; 9.8 Width 31mm, found Barrington, Cambs., collection of Stuart Laycock; 9.9 Width 30mm, found Winchester, Hants., collection of Brian Cavill; 9.10 Width 34mm, found Cublington, Bucks, private collection; 9.11 Width not known, found near Chinnor, Oxon., private collection; 9.12 Width not known, found Enfield, Gt. London, redrawn after Lincoln Road, Enfield; 9.13 Width not known, found Cirencester, Gloucs., redrawn after Brown; 9.14 Width 32mm, found not known, private collection.

REFERENCES
Brown D. - Archaeological Evidence for the Anglo-Saxon Period - in A. Mc Whirr (ed.) Archaeology and History of Cirencester. BAR, Brit. Series 30 (1976)
Lincoln Road, Enfield - Transactions London and Middlesex Archaeological Society 28/29 (1977/78)
Sommer M. - Die G?rtel und G?rtelbeschl?ge des 4. und 5. Jahrhunderts im R?mischen Reich. (1984)

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