Fibula (brooch)

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Braganza Fibula/Brooch, Celtic art 250-200 BC, British Museum

A Fibula is an ancient brooch. (Plural: fibulae). Technically, the latin term fibulae meant Roman brooches, but the term is widely used for brooches from the entire ancient and early medieval world. Unlike modern brooches, fibulae were not only decorative, they originally served a practical function: to fasten clothes, including cloaks. Fibulae replaced straight pins that were used to fasten clothing in the Neolithic period and Bronze Age. In turn, fibulae were replaced as clothing fasteners in the Middle Ages by buttons. Their descendent, the modern safety-pin, remains in use today.

There are hundreds of different types and variations of fibulae. They are usually divided into families or groups based on historical period, geography and/or cultural grouping. Fibulae are also divided into classes based on their general forms.

Further reading[change | change source]

  • Hattatt, Richard. A Visual catalogue of Richard Hattatt's Ancient Brooches. Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2000.