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Ritual Significance of Personal Ornament in Roman Britain

Sonia Puttock


This work on personal ornament in Roman Britain began as an analysis of, and a comparison between, the types of and styles of jewellery favoured by the people of Roman Britain of differing social classes and areas. It soon became clear that many of theseartifacts had a deeper significance than that of mere adornment. Furthermore, the majority of these items were recovered from places with ritual or religious connotations. The author proposes that such personal ornamentation appears to have a definite ritual aspect. Because of the religious or superstitious nature of these sites, artifacts deliberately deposited there can be linked to a belief in an afterlife and an intervention by the gods in the lives of mortals. The find-sites indicate that the items probably had a common significance which would have been linked mainly to women, for the majority of these items were articles of feminine adornment. This led to the supposition that the votive artifacts were associated with health and fertility, the mainconcerns of most women in the ancient world.