Museum acquires unique Leasingham Horse Brooch

The Leasingham Horse Brooch, a Roman-era copper alloy brooch in the shape of a three-dimensional horse that is unique on the archaeological record, has been acquired by the Collection Museum in Lincoln.

The brooch was discovered by metal detectorist Jason Price in a field near Leasingham in the summer of 2019. It is complete with the original hinged pin, which is in and of itself very rare. The long, stylized head of the horse is lowered at the end of an arched neck engraved with 14 grooves representing a neatly arranged mane. A saddle or saddle blanket is on the horse’s back. Carved and modelled in the round in a 3D design that has no known cognates. The closest comparable object is a brooch in the British Museum which is a slightly rounded plate brooch mounted on a bar, so really very different in concept and execution.

Because it is not made of precious metal, this unique 2,000-year-old artifact would not be declared Treasure and the finder got to be the keeper. Thankfully, Price arranged for the Leasingham Horse Brooch to go on loan at the Collection Museum and now that’s where it will stay permanently, thanks to the Friends of Lincoln Museums and Art Gallery who donated the necessary funds to acquire the horse from Price.

Dawn Heywood, Senior Collections Development Officer at the museum, said: “The brooch is an incredibly rare find in Britain, and the first three-dimensional horse brooch to be recorded on the Portable Antiquities Scheme finds database.

“This style of horse brooch is now identified as the ‘Leasingham type’, so we are privileged to have had the opportunity to acquire the first of its kind for the museum collection”.

2 thoughts on “Museum acquires unique Leasingham Horse Brooch

  1. I think there is a possibility that it may have been more of a display piece or “object” because if it was used fasten fabric it would have been heavy enough to flop down and hand up side down. One possibility is if it was worn on the top of the shoulder with fairly heavy fabric, e.g. a cloak. It would sit upright on the wearers shoulder a la a pirate’s parrot.

  2. I agree with George that this must be a display piece. This pin is top heavy and it would have flipped. Also the latch is made for it to be upside down. Look at the top photo where the pin would hook in it. It would have to be worn upside down or the the pin would have slipped out.

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