Sea Leopard Brooch

Contributed by Isles of Scilly Museum

This brooch, made of leaded bronze with enamel decoration, has the head of a leopard, a long spotted body, fins on its back and belly, and a large finned tail. Enamelled brooches of this type were made in Europe in the second century AD. Part of the marine thiasos of Bacchus, which also includes Tritons, Nereids, dolphins and hippocampi, sea leopards decorate other objects of the period, notably floor mosaics (e.g. a fine pavement at the Fishbourne 'palace') and were seen as benevolent escorts for the human soul on its journey to the Isles of the Blessed. Many other brooches, coins and trinkets, all of Roman- provincial types, in the debris of a stone-built hut on the small uninhabited island of Nornour, once part of the main land-mass of the Isles of Scilly. Such objects, personal possessions, were perhaps offered at a shrine here. Scilly was on the sea-routes of western Europe, so maybe people on vessels calling there for supplies and shelter would make offerings for the safety and prosperity of their onward voyage.

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  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 12:09 on 8 June 2011, binyue wrote:

    could you please give me some further detail about leaded bronze ? Thanks!

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Probably made in the Rhineland


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