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8.2 Dress

8.2.1. Items of dress

Artefacts from Vetera I that are dress items include: fibulae, belts and belt attachments, jewellery, bronze and bone hairpins, and some textiles and leather remains. It is also possible, in some cases, to distinguish whether particular items were worn by men, women, or even children. The belt plates, which were part of armour, are most probably male dress and classified as 'dress-combat equipment'. Other particular items can be separated into male or female dress. As used here, male and female categories refer to adult male and adult female.

8.2.1a Fibulae (brooches)

The most common article of dress to be found in Roman military sites is the fibula (brooch). Most brooches found in these sites were worn by soldiers, both to fasten their coats and as an insignia. A number of brooches also occur in military sites that can be identified as women's, or possibly women's, brooches. Both men and women wore relatively high-bowed brooches which could fasten the thick cloth of overcoats. There were also certain types worn by women for lighter undergarments and as jewellery (see Martin-Kilcher 1993), although it has not been conclusively argued that these were exclusively women's brooches (Allason-Jones 1995, 22-24).

'Male' fibulae

According to Gechter (1979, 77), 75% of the brooches within Roman military sites in the Rhine region had a high bow and were most probably worn by men. The more prolific types from these provenances have justifiably been identified as soldiers' brooches (e.g. Böhme 1972; form 20; Riha 1979, 1.6.2). Many fibulae that have been identified as men's brooches could conceivably have been worn by women to hold their thicker outer garments (e.g. the Aucissa fibulae: Riha 1979, 5.2) (see Figure 6). However, for the purposes of this study such brooches have all been categorised as 'male'. This is to guard against a too positivistic argument for the presence of women and may indeed mean that there were many more women's brooches at Vetera than are identified in this study.

'Female' fibulae

Spiral fibula B16 from Vetera
Figure 23: Spiral fibula B16 from Vetera (drawing Hanel 1995, pl. 28)

Böhme has argued that the spiral fibula, Almgren 16 (Böhme 1972, 14-15, Form 15 - Figure 23), can safely be attributed to women because this type frequently occurred in pairs in Belgic female graves, as did enamelled disc brooch (Böhme 1972, 36-37, Form 41). Likewise, Böhme has classified disc brooches decorated with silver or gold wire or coated with silver or gold as women's jewellery (Böhme 1972, 36-37, Form 44). Also, bowed brooches with a semi-circular headplate and a suspension eye for a chain (Böhme 1972, 17-18, Form 18) were worn by women. Only these types have been categorised as 'female' in this study (although cf. Allason-Jones 1995, 24).

'Female?' and 'Female/male?' fibulae

Trumpet fibula B44 from Vetera
Figure 24: Trumpet fibula B44 from Vetera (drawing Hanel 1995, pl. 30)

Because of its small size (c. 20-45 mm long), the trumpet fibula, Almgren 101 (Figure 24), was thought by Fischer (1966) to have been a women's brooch type although Böhme (1970, 10-14) has argued that this type could be worn by both men and women. Their occurrence alone within forts is not, however, an argument for their having been worn by men.

Kragenfibeln B45 from Vetera
Figure 25: Kragenfibeln B45 from Vetera (drawing Hanel 1995, pl. 30)

Wild noted (1968, 202) that three Claudian Kragenfibeln were used for women's overtunics on stelae from Mainz-Wesenau and Ingleheim. Gechter commented (1979, 77) that Kragenfibeln represented under 5% of the brooches found inside military fortifications but that this number doubled in oppida. This suggested to him that they were probably civilian brooches and quite possibly women's brooches. According to Böhme (pers. comm.), Almgren 269 Kragenfibeln (e.g. Vetera B45, Figure 25) are a Late La Tène form, the more developed form of what was originally a women's brooch. However, she also warns (pers. comm. letter 15.04.04) that Kragenfibeln came in a great range of sizes and heights of bow, the higher bow being later, so it is no simple matter to identify whether a particular one is for male or female, or possibly children's, dress, without good contextual evidence.

Gechter also commented (1979, 77) that 'Langton-Down' and 'Distel' fibulae represented less than 5% of the brooches found within military fortifications, again with twice this number in oppida. Martin-Kilcher (1993) has frequently noted 'Distel' fibulae in women's graves in the area of the Alps during the early Empire and smaller-sized brooches as fasteners for women's undergarments. Böhme argued (Böhme-Schönberger 1998a, 359-60) that 'Distel' fibulae (Almgren 239 and 240) are truly female brooches only in their indigenous milieu but that their military association is either evidence of women in Roman camps or of German soldiers. She also warns against classifying Langton-Down fibulae as 'completely female fibulae' (pers. comm. letter 15.04.04). A number of disc brooches in the form of animals (Böhme 1972, 40-41, Form 43) are also found in military sites, but in greater numbers in civilian sites. However, it is not possible to ascertain whether these were worn by men or women.

For the purposes of this study, these particular fibula types, which have been identified by some scholars as women's brooches, are categorised either as 'female?' or as 'female?/male?', depending on the relative likelihood of their being the size and specific type worn by women.

8.2.1b Belts and belt attachments

Belts were required by Celtic, German and Noric-Pannonian civilian male and female dress and by Roman soldiers' dress (Böhme-Schönberger 1997, passim). It would seem possible to distinguish between at least some of the belts and belt attachments of the different gender and social groups. For example, metal belt plates and simple buckles with tongues seem to have belonged to Roman soldiers (see discussion below). Thus, for the purposes of this study, unless belt attachments have been definitively identified as women's dress they are categorised as 'male'.

8.2.1c Hairpins

A number of bronze and bone pins have been found at military sites, without an eye but with rounded and sometimes decorated heads. Pins of gold, silver, bronze, ivory, bone or gagat with plain or decorated heads, are common finds in settlement sites and burials and have been identified as women's hairpins (Böhme-Schönberger 1997, 83-84). The function of a hairpin was to hold the hair in a knot but they were also worn as jewellery (Riha 1990, 95). They became more common from mid 1st century CE, when women's hairstyles became more complex and ever higher, often following the styles of the women of the imperial family. For this reason hairpins are considered part of female dress.

At South Shields on Hadrian's Wall, a very large quantity of bone and bronze pins were recorded, both materials ranging in length 35-115 mm (Allason-Jones and Miket 1984, 68-91, 178-184). Allason-Jones argued (Allason-Jones and Miket 1984, 68) that the well-made and neatly decorated bone pins were 'intended as hair-ornaments or possibly dress fasteners' while the coarser ones were possibly functional bag fasteners. To date, the evidence seems to suggest that decorated bone and bronze pins were used as hairpins in life but that bronze ones, at least, could be used in death to hold the shroud in the 3rd and 4th centuries (Allason-Jones 1995, 28). For the purposes of this study, complete pins with shaped or decorated heads which fit within the size range of those at South Shields are identified as hairpins and categorised as 'dress' and 'female' (see Allason-Jones 1996, 198-99).

8.2.1d Shoes

Remains of leather shoes are frequently found in Roman military sites, particularly the more waterlogged ones like Vindolanda on Hadrian's Wall and Valkenburg in Holland. An elegant sandal, stamped with the name of its maker and found within the Vindolanda fort is believed to have belonged to Sulpicia Lepidina, the commanding officer's wife, who had been writing to her friend, Claudia Severa (Birley 1977, 125; Van Driel-Murray, 1995, 9). While this definite attribution may be somewhat fanciful, it is certainly not the sort of footwear one would expect to find a soldier wearing. Finds of similarly elaborate footwear have been made at Saalburg, possibly from wells within the fortress complex (now on display in the Saalburg Museum). Other leather soles and wooden shoes, cannot be so easily 'sexed'. Carol van Driel-Murray (1994; 1995; 1997) has studied the remains of shoes found at military sites and analysed the spatial distribution of smaller-sized shoes to argue for the presence of women and children within soldier's barracks prior to the end of the 2nd century CE.

8.2.1e Jewellery


Bronze rings, which can be definitively identified as finger rings, and remains of ring inlays have been found within Roman military installations and identified as jewellery and therefore dress. A number of other rings are less certainly jewellery and are discussed below.

Beads, necklaces and medallions

Melon beads (inv. no. 4772), found with human skeleton in room 19 in the Casa del Menandro in Pompeii
Figure 26: Melon beads (inv. no. 4772), found with human skeleton in room 19 in the Casa del Menandro in Pompeii (photo P. M. Allison)

Beads, particularly glass or bone beads, have been recorded at a number of Roman military sites. Allason-Jones has argued that, while necklaces of beads were worn by women (1996, 189-99), beads could be worn as amulets by children of both sexes (1995, 27). There is also evidence that the particular type of glass melon bead (Figure 26) was used to decorate horse harness and shield sheaths (Hoffmann 2002, 230). My study of artefacts from the Insula del Menandro in Pompeii (Allison n.d.1) indicated that bone discs with diameter 15-30 mm and a central hole of diameter 2-3.5 mm were most likely to have been worn as beads. Therefore, glass beads, which are not melon beads, and small bone beads are categorised as 'dress' and as 'female'. Glass medallions are also categorised as 'dress' here. These are sometimes considered to be military decoration although it is not necessarily proven that they were worn only by men.

Earrings, armlets and bracelets

Earrings and bracelets were not recorded at Vetera but they do occur at other military sites (see Allason-Jones 1995, 25-26). Allason-Jones noted that a number of Roman authors scorned the wearing of earrings by inhabitants of the East, but that some of these individuals would have served in the army in the western provinces. Therefore earrings from these military sites are not definitively female dress. However, such soldiers are unlikely to have worn the same types of earrings as Roman or native women from the western provinces although to prove this one would need to investigate the distribution of earring types across the Empire.

Roman authors were also disparaging about men wearing bracelets, but gold armlets were male accessories in the celtic world (Allason-Jones 1995, 27) and armlets were worn by soldiers, at least in period of the tetrarchs, according to Bishop and Coulston (1989, 69).

8.2.1f Armour

There are a number of items found in military sites that can be identified as parts of armour, and therefore as military dress. These include some remains of helmets and of certain types of belts.


Soldiers usually wore belts with a metal buckle and made up of metal plates (Bishop and Coulton 1993, 96-98). These belts were sometimes worn as crossed pairs and carried swords and daggers (see Robinson 1975, pl. 242-5). Buckles, which appear to have been used specifically for 'lorica segmentata' armour, are hinged buckles (see Robinson 1975, pls 485-93; Bishop and Coulston 1993, fig. 52). Therefore, this particular type of buckle and these metal belt plates have been categorised as 'dress-combat equipment' and 'male'.


The reconstructed 1st century CE 'lorica segmentata' cuirass from Corbridge shows hinge types that have been identified as parts of armour (Allason-Jones and Bishop 1988 figs 23-24). These types do occur in other contexts where such an identification is not so clear (e.g. in House I 10,8 in Pompeii: Allison n.d. 1, cat. no. 1646). Therefore, it should not be discounted that, even when they are found within military sites, these hinges may not always have been parts of armour. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this study they have also been classified as 'dress-combat equipment' and 'male'.

8.2.2 Possible items of dress, jewellery and armour

A number of other artefacts are likely to have been used for dress but this is by no means certain.

8.2.2a Fasteners

'Button-and-loop' fasteners are frequently found on military sites. Wild (1970b) has argued that they were associated with horse harness. However, their occurrence in domestic contexts (Wild 1970b, 143), in personal assemblages (Allison n.d. 1, in room 2 in the Casa del Fabbro), suggests that they could also have been used for human apparel, possibly male and female. They are therefore categorised as 'dress?/combat equipment?/horse equipment?' and 'male?/female?'. Bar-and-keyhole type fasteners have variously been identified as either for armour or for horse harness (see Bishop 1988, 103; Hanel 1995, 56). They are therefore categorised as 'dress?/combat equipment?/horse equipment?' and 'male'.

8.2.2b Other bronze and bone pins

As well as hairpins or dress pins, undecorated pins could have been used for a number of other purposes. Bronze or bone pins with a marked shoulder are identified as styli (see Deschler-Erb 1998, 143-4, 159-66, pls 22-23 and 31-36). Wild noted that spindles in the northern provinces were made of wood or bone and were up to 300 mm long (1970a, 32-33 and pl. 3b), and that distaffs could also be made of bone and were 200-300 mm long (1970a, 31 and fig. 15). A spindle attached to a spindle-whorl discovered in the Casa del Fabbro in Pompeii had a squared head with a diagonal cut in the shaft, near the head, and a tapering shaft (Allison n.d. 1, cat. no. 1049).

Fragments of bone pins which have no evidence of a marked shoulder, decorated head, identifiable complete length, or evidence to indicate whether or not they had an eye, are categorised as 'dress?/cloth production?/writing?' and as 'male?/female?', although some could potentially have been bag fasteners. Bronze pins with no indication of whether or not they had a decorated head or eyes are categorised as 'dress?/cloth production?/toilet?' and also 'male?/female?'.

8.2.2c Bronze rings

Considerable numbers of bronze rings occur in Roman military sites and had a range of uses. Some, particularly those which are either decorated, or are of a particular size range with a flattened inside face, are categorised as 'jewellery?', as a subcategory of 'dress?'. It is also possible to suggest whether individual rings were worn by men, women or children.

On the basis of modern data for ring sizes and the knowledge that Romans wore rings on all fingers and all joints, Furger (1990) has done a statistical study of the size-ranges of different types of rings from Augst and Kaiseraugst, in Switzerland. He has estimated that: children's rings had a general inner diameter c. 13 mm - 14.3 mm; the most common inner diameter for those worn by women was c. 17.5 mm, with a range from 9-21 mm; the smallest ring worn by an adult male had an inner diameter of 13 mm; and rings worn by men most commonly had an inner diameter between c. 19-24 mm. He also found that key-shaped rings and polygonal rings were not generally worn by children; key-shaped and inlaid rings were worn by men and women, twisted wire rings and engraved rings were worn by men, rings with a flat plate were more commonly worn by children and men than by women, and open rings, plain bands, and rings with a rectangular section were women's rings. According to Allason-Jones (1995, 27) intaglio rings were worn by both sexes.

Most artefact catalogues do not indicate whether the diameter of rings given is the inner or the outer but the usual convention in archaeology is to measure the outer diameter of an object. Thus, the recorded ring-diameters tend to be somewhat larger than those discussed by Furger. For the rings discussed in this catalogue it is sometimes possible to measure the inner diameter but not always. Furger gave a maximum inner diameter of 24 mm for a male ring. Gold finger-rings from the treasure in the Casa del Menandro had an outer diameter of up to 30 mm (e.g. Allison n.d. 1, cat. no. 472) and a twisted ring from Vetera with an outer diameter of 30 mm (B505) was very probably a finger-ring.

On this basis, circular, as opposed to four-sided, rings whose internal diameter is not available but which have an outside diameter less than 30 mm and a relatively flattish inner profile have been tentatively identified as finger-rings. Depending on size, and allowing up to 4 mm difference between inner and outer diameter, they have been categorised variously as either men's, women's or children's rings. 4 mm is no doubt conservative for heavier rings, but possibly a bit optimistic for smaller and lighter rings. In balance, this means that a small percentage of the rings categorised as female?/child? could have belonged to small men, and some of those categorised as male? rings would conceivably have been female? rings. Thus, the gender categories tend to err on the conservative side.

8.2.2d Glass and bone beads and discs

As mentioned above, the particular type of glass melon bead was used to decorate horse harness and armour as well as for jewellery. It is therefore categorised as 'dress?/horse equipment?'. Discs similar in size to the bone ones discussed above but made of other materials (e.g. lead, stone) may also have been jewellery, so these have been categorised as 'dress?' and 'female?/children?

Many of the bone and glass discs with central holes from the Insula del Menandro in Pompeii could be shown to be either jewellery, spindle whorls or furniture fittings, depending on the size of the disc and of its central hole (Allison n.d. 1). Some may also have been reused as gaming counters, as identified by Hanel (1995, 285). Unfortunately the size of the central hole is seldom given in the finds catalogues of Roman military sites. Depending on the evidence for each one, they are therefore categorised as one or more of 'dress?/cloth production?/furniture?/gaming?'.

8.2.2e Bells

Large and small bronze bells occur in Roman military sites. Bells have a number of functions in the Roman world (see Allason-Jones 1999a, 2-3). Gusman suggested (1900, 127-28) that they were worn, or hung outside dwellings, for protection. Galliazzo (1976, 157 nos 2-5) identified bells for use in the domestic sphere (for example, as dinner bells). They could also be used in temples and shrines. Bells, often made of iron, were suspended from the collars or harness of horses, cows, sheep and goats (see Jacobi 1897, 534; Emery 1938, 262-71). Heavier ones were usually used for beasts of burden such as oxen or mules. In the Casa del Menandro in Pompeii, six bells (height c. 60 mm) were associated with animal harness (Allison n.d. 1, cat. nos 603 and 622). Bells were also used as personal ornaments (for example, small light bells threaded onto an armlet) or as musical instruments (see Crummy 1992, 186-87). Chavane suggested (1975, 147-8) that small examples were worn by children or used for chimes. In the Casa del Fabbro in Pompeii, two such bells (hts, 30 mm and 22 mm) were found in association with personal items and jewellery (Allison n.d. 1, cat. nos 1442-3). In this study, bells with a height less than c. 30 mm are categorised as musical or jewellery items, probably for women or children. Those of c. 40 mm or more are classified as 'horse equipment?/music?/religion?'.

8.2.2f Buckles

The buckles of soldier's belts were sometimes hinged to one of the belt plates and were often D-shaped with a strap tongue (see Allason-Jones and Bishop 1988, figs 53-54). Buckles were also used on cuirasses (see Allason-Jones and Bishop 1988, figs 23-24). Wild observed (1968, 182) that '[b]elt-buckles are rarely found except in military contexts' (see also Manning 1985, 146-7), but this is not strictly true. A D-shaped buckle was found in a settlement context in Scole, although identified as military equipment (Bishop 1991, 24-25, fig. B1). D-shaped buckles are also found on horse harness (e.g. Palágyi 1986, figs 1-2) and occur in the domestic assemblages in Pompeii. Many of those found in the Insula del Menandro in Pompeii were thought to have been for horse equipment (Maiuri 1933, 452), but their distribution and associations suggest that this is improbable (Allison n.d. 1, cat. nos 690, 772-775). Belts were also worn by civilians, both male and female. Varro (de. L. L. V, 114) tells us that the cingillum was a belt, or girdle, worn by women (see also Bishop and Coulston 1993, 96). As well as the identifiable local types of belt attachments in the western provinces there also seems little reason to suppose that civilians, male and possibly female, never wore these D-shaped buckles, particularly given their provenances in Pompeii. They have, therefore, been categorised as 'dress?/combat equipment?/horse equipment?' and as 'male?'.

8.2.2g Pendants

Numerous bronze pendants, sometimes silvered or treated with niello have been found within military sites. The common types are pelta-shaped (Bishop 1988, Type 3); lunate-shaped (Bishop 1988, Type 9); teardrop-shaped (Bishop 1988, Type 5); bird-headed (Bishop 1988, Type 7); in the form of a phallus (Bishop 1988, Type 10); or the so-called 'trifid' pendant (Bishop 1988, Type 1).

There is no doubt that at least some of these pendants were parts of horse harness, being powerful magical symbols that were used to decorate it for apotropaic reasons (Bishop 1987; 1988). Bishop noted (1988, 96) that the 'trifid' pendant was the commonest form in the 1st century CE and linked to the simpler lunate type. This was the type that decorated the silvered horse trappings found at Vetera I (Jenkins 1985). According to Bishop, the pelta-shape pendants were rare, but seem to have occurred relatively frequently in the Vesuvian region in southern Italy, one at least of which is identifiably part of horse harness (Allison n.d. 1, cat. no. 624). Teardrop-shaped pendants were used, reputedly, for both horse harness and as terminals for the 'apron' straps worn as part of armour (Bishop 1988, 97-98; see Robinson 1975, pls 245 and 423). Bird-headed pendants were also popular in the pre-Flavian period and occur as horse harness decoration in the pre-Flavian period (Bishop 1988, 98). Bishop noted that lunate pendants were suspended from the brow band, breast strap and haunch straps in the reliefs of horses on a number of military tombstones (1988, 69-79, esp. figs 1, 3-6, 8, 11 and 13), although the actual pendants on the tombstones seem more like bells or 'trifid' pendants than those classified by Bishop as lunate pendants. Bishop noted that phallic pendants are common in military contexts, but cannot be associated with the cavalry (Bishop 1988, 98). Bishop therefore suggested that they may have been used in vehicle harness or for beasts of burden.

In contrast, Jacobi had included leaf-shaped and lunate-shaped enamelled pendants from Saalburg in a collection of pieces for human adornment (1897, 500 and pls 68-9, esp. pl. 69.10-11, 15). In Pompeii a number of bronze pendants have been found in domestic contexts and not associated with any military or horse equipment. Of particular note are three small pendants found in a box with other luxury items in the Casa del Menandro (Allison n.d. 1, cat. no. 671 - Figure 7). They include a teardrop and a bird-headed pendant and a lunate item which could also have been a part of a pendant. A phallic pendant (Allison n.d. 1, cat. no. 1724) was also found in a storeroom in House I 10,8, in the Insula del Menandro. This room had been used to store domestic equipment, including personal items such as two iron finger-rings.

The discovery of such pendants in domestic contexts, associated with luxury and personal items, suggests that they had wider use than purely military and predominantly for horse harness. While it is possible that these had been keepsakes from military relatives, it seem safest to suppose that such pendants could be worn by horses and men and women, military personnel and civilians. Thus, unless the pendants are found in direct association with other parts of horse harness (such as the silver trappings found at Vetera), or are particularly large (i.e. over 80 mm in length), the pendants here have been categorised as 'dress?/combat equipment?/horse equipment?' and 'male?/female?'.

8.2.2h Drop handles

Drop handles were used in helmets and on chests. Therefore these are classified as 'dress-combat equipment?/furniture?' and 'male?'.

8.2.3 Analysis and interpretation of the distribution patterns at Vetera

Similar types of queries were run for dress as those that were run for toilet activities. For all these items it was possible to separate them into gender and/or age categories.

8.2.3a Artefacts categorised as certain dress items

As one might expect from a double legionary camp that accommodated some 12,000 soldiers, there are a considerable number of items related to human apparel - 199 items of which fifty-seven are from armour (i.e. helmets and remains of armour and soldiers' belts).

Dress and combat dress (D1)

Following a review of legacy systems and in line with broader ADS practice, the interactive map element of this article has been decommissioned. The full underlying set of data is still available for download from the digital archive.

Screendump of query from desktop ArcGIS
Screendump of ArcGIS query - (D1), certain dress items by category

141 items are classified as 'dress' (D). These items are distributed across most of the excavated areas of the site, although notably not Buildings b, c and d, or, more strangely, in barracks N and O, and most of palace H except the north-west corner. The main concentrations are in: the via principalis; the front parts of buildings facing this street; the open area in front of Building A; and in the gateways, especially the east gate. Dress-related items are also relatively prevalent in Building Z, Building a, palace P, and the administrative buildings, Buildings A, B and G. The following items could not be plotted: one found in Trench 115 in the vicinity of east gate and classified as 'male?'; one found in Trench 308 (in a pre-Claudian context) and classified as 'male'; two found in Trench 1294, one classified as 'male' and the other as 'male?/female?'; one found in Trench 1512 and classified as 'male?'. Another four 'male?/female?', four 'female' and one 'male' items were predominantly from the surface and of unrecorded provenance.

Twelve of the certain dress items (D), which can be plotted, have pre-Claudian contexts, seven of which are found beneath the administrative buildings, Buildings A-B and G (in Building A - one 'male?/female?' item in Trench 375, pit 2, and one 'male?' in Trench 273, pit 22; in Building G - one 'male' item in Trench 327.1; and possibly one 'male' in the vicinity, in Trench 325, pit 2; in Building B - one 'male' and one 'male?' in Trench 424, pit 1). Two others were found outside the camp (a 'male' item in trench 229, and a 'male?' item in Trench 234), and three under Building F (two 'male?' and one 'male', in Trench 954, pit 2).

The items categorised as 'dress-combat equipment' (DE) are also concentrated in the central administrative buildings, particularly Buildings A - B, with some in the via principalis and the north gateway, four in the tribunes' houses K-M, three in palace P, and two in Building S. These are, obviously, all categorised as 'male'. One in Trench 308 could not be plotted and one is of unknown provenance. Of those that could be plotted, one in Building a (Trench 497, pit 2) is from a pre-Claudian context, as is one in Building G (Trench 327.1), one in the east gateway (Trench 212, pit 33), and one outside the Neronian fortress (Trench 38).

In combination dress items, (D) and (DE), are distributed across the site but with a noted lack in barracks N and O and in palace H, except in the north-west corner. While there is a noted concentration of dress items (D) in the east and west gateways and in the buildings immediately inside these gateways there is a relative dearth of combat dress in these areas.

Certain dress by gender (D2)

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Screendump of ArcGIS query - (D2), certain dress by gender

Artefacts associated with dress (D) and (DE) can be separated into the following categories: 'male' (MA), 'male?' (ZMA), 'male?/female?' (ZMA_FE), 'female' (FE), and 'female?' (ZFE).

The items found in the administrative buildings, in the vicinity of the north gate are almost exclusively 'male', with only four 'male?' and one male?/female?. This includes the pre-Claudian items. 'Male' and 'male?' items predominated across the rest of the excavated areas of the fortress.

No dress items categorised as 'female' or 'female?' were recorded in the administrative buildings and none definitively from pre-Claudian contexts. Of the fifteen so-identified items, ten can be plotted within the fortress, four ('female') are of unknown provenance and one in trench 1294 could not be plotted. Of the nine within the central area of the fortress: four are in the vicinity of the east gate, three in residential Buildings P, H and M, one in Building Z, and one in Building a. The concentration in the buildings near the east gateway, particularly in Buildings T and U, is interesting, as is the item in Building a, which consisted of twenty-one beads from a necklace (see Section 8.7). The latter assemblage included sixteen coins, two fibulae, a bronze bucket and tableware.

About half of the dress items from within the administrative buildings are actually from the earlier levels, including the one classified as male?/female?, somewhat reducing the apparent concentration of male dress items in these buildings. By contrast all the 'female' and 'female?' dress items are from contexts likely to be in the Claudian-Neronian period fortress, except probably a fibula of a Late La Tène/Augustan date found in Building M but without a secure context. Their number is limited but their distribution shows perhaps an expected presence in the residences of officers and unexpected ones in the area of the east gate and in Buildings a and Z. Considering that one of the three items in officers' residence might be in a pre-Claudian context, the higher proportion in the area of the via principalis is noteworthy.

8.2.3b Artefacts categorised as uncertain dress items

There are fewer uncertain than certain dress items (196 certain and 124 uncertain). At first glance, the latter appear to be fairly randomly distributed across most parts of the excavated areas. However, by separating them into the various types a pattern emerges.

Uncertain dress by category (D3)

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Screendump of ArcGIS query - (D3), uncertain dress by category

Forty-one items categorised as 'dress?' (ZD) consist of possible jewellery items (i.e. rings that may have been finger-rings and one bone disc that may have been a bead) and are fairly widely distributed. Five were found either outside the fortress, in the fortifications or were unprovenanced. At least one such item found in Building G and one from Building F (in Trench 954, pit 2) are from pre-Claudian contexts. Of the thirty-four remaining items, found within the fortress, three were near the north gate, and eight in the central and eastern part of the via principalis (mainly in front of Building F), two in Building Z, one in Building W, five in the tribunes' houses, four in palace P (although two of these in Trench 750 and conceivably from street or Building F), two in palace H, four in Buildings A-B, and five in Building G. This suggests that they were items that tended to be lost in the residential buildings or near the main street, a likely scenario for finger-rings and necklace beads. However, they also have a considerable presence in the central administrative buildings.

Of the thirty-nine buckles, fasteners and pendants classified 'dress?/combat equipment?/horse equipment?' (ZD_E_H), two were found outside the Neronian fortress and one was unprovenanced. Six were found in the main streets and gateways (although one in Trench 212 was possibly in a pre-Claudian context), fourteen in the administrative buildings (one in Trench 316.1 in a pre-Claudian context), four in tribune houses J-M, one in the street between palace H and Building A, one from Trench 750 (possibly in palace P or Building F), one in Building a, one to the north of barracks Y, and two in the front of barracks V. Interestingly, two were found in Building Z and one in Building b, the latter having very few finds. One in Trench 1323 could not be plotted. Thus, the main concentrations of these items are in the administrative buildings and perhaps in the gateways, with a notable presence in the tribunes' houses. Their presence in these residences might suggest that they were not horse equipment.

Eighteen glass beads are categorised as 'dress?/horse equipment?' (ZD_H), three of which are unprovenanced. One such item was found in the fortifications and another inside the north gate area, the latter in a pre-Claudian context. Of the remaining thirteen, six were found in the via principalis and open area in front of Building A, four were in tribune's house J and palace P (one of which was possibly in the street or Building F), and four in the administrative buildings B and G. Two of the latter were probably in pre-Claudian contexts. This pattern intimates that they were perhaps items of dress rather than horse equipment, and had belonged to women.

Sixteen drop handles are classified as 'dress-combat equipment?/furniture?' (ZD_E_F), one of which is outside the Neronian fortress and two in trenches through the fortifications in the north-west area. Of the thirteen within the central excavated area: two were in the east gateway, two in the central open area in front of Building A, two in the street between Buildings A and P, and one in the street in front of the west gateway; two were in barracks Y; one was in Building Z; one was in Building d; and two were in the north-east corner of Building L. This is a rather unusual distribution pattern which does not seem to reflect the patterns of other items in the possible dress category, except that about half were found in the street. This suggests concurrence with their role as a carrying mechanism for portable items like helmets and chests, perhaps dropped in the street during the final abandonment, but does not confirm either identification. The evidence is insubstantial but their discovery in more 'out-of-the-way' places like the southern end of Building Z, Building d and Building L suggests that these examples, at least, may have been in storage, and therefore possibly chest handles. A study of the distribution of other furniture items is needed to see if they have a similar distribution. However, furniture is not discussed in this article.

Five bells, classified as dress?/music? (ZD_MU), were found along the via principalis and in the east gateway. Another was found in Building G. Remains of five bone pins are classified as 'dress?/cloth production?/writing?' (ZD_C_W). One of these was from outside the Neronian fortress, in a pre-Claudian context. Two found in Trench 325, in the vicinity of Building G, may also have been in a pre-Claudian context. The other two were both found in the front western side of Building A, where other writing implements were also found (see Section 8.5). Two copper pins, classified as dress?/cloth production?/toilet? (ZD_C_T), were found in Building A and in the east end of the via principalis. Another indeterminate bone disc, classified as 'dress?/cloth production?/furniture?/gaming? (ZD_C_F_G), was found at the front of Building Z. With the exception of the bone pin remains, which are likely to have been writing implements, most of these items appear to have been lost in the vicinity of the street.

Uncertain dress by gender and age (D4)

Screendump of query from desktop ArcGIS
Screendump of ArcGIS query - (D4), uncertain dress by gender and age

Some of the above items can be ascribed a possible gender. Items that are likely to be for male dress (ZMA) - i.e. buckles and some rings) or for either male or female dress (ZMA_FE) - i.e. pendants, other rings and remains of bone and copper pins) have the widest distribution. In the central excavated area, excluding those that may have been furniture handles, 'male?' items occur predominantly in the administrative buildings and surrounding streets, and in the central part of the via principalis and the east gateway. They are also present in Building Z, in tribunes' houses J and M, possibly palace P and barracks Y and V.

The 'male?/female?' items are found in similar locations. They are relatively numerous in Building G, although one was in a pre-Claudian context. There are five in tribunes' houses J, K and M, three in palace H and possibly one in palace P. They are also present in Buildings Z, a, b, F, W and north of barracks Y.

More interesting is the distribution of possible female items (ZFE - i.e. rings, glass beads, bone and enamelled discs) and possible female or children's items (ZFE_CH - i.e. small rings and bells). These two groups are found in the similar locations: near the gateways; in the open area in front of Building A; in the tribune's houses J and M; in palace P and in Building L. There is a notable concentration of them in the areas where the possible male dress items are relatively rare, for example in palace P and the open area in front of Building A. Their presence in the front parts of barracks V and Building Z and in Buildings A and G is noteworthy. None of these possibly female items have been definitively ascribed to pre-Claudian contexts.

Women's and children's dress (D5)

Screendump of query from desktop ArcGIS
Screendump of ArcGIS query - (D5), women's and children's dress

If we combine the possible dress items that could have been for women's and children's dress, with the certain dress items that were female or possibly female, the plot again shows concentrations: near the main gates, both in the street and in the fronts of buildings immediately inside the gates; in the market area in front of Building A; and in the officers' residences.

8.2.4 Conclusions

In summary, dress and possible dress items are scattered across the excavated buildings of this site. However, there is a noted lack of dress items in barracks N and O and in Buildings b and c (with the exception of a drop handle and a pendant). This is probably not significant for barracks N and O, which were only very partially excavated. However, given that Buildings b and c were as extensively excavated as any other of the buildings in this central area, the comparative lack here may hint that these buildings were not being used for accommodation, or were not frequently entered by the fortress's occupants. Interestingly, there are twelve dress and possible dress-related items in Building Z but no toilet items except glass bowls. This, again, seems to throw into question its identification as a hospital and renders it a more likely candidate for accommodation than barracks O and N (see Section 8.7).

Women's and children's dress items are found particularly in officers' residences, in the street, in the buildings opening onto the street, and in the main gates, with a noted concentration in the open, possibly market, area in front of Building A, and a presence in Building a (see Section 8.6).

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