22/08/11

Hare brooch

An exquisite late 2nd or 3rd century Roman copper alloy brooch in the shape of a hare, found at the Villa site in August.

For the Romans, the hare was associated with Diana, Goddess of wild places and the hunt. Hares symbolised fertility and springtime (today they maqsuerade as the Easter Bunny!). Eating their flesh was considered to improve potency, and Pliny the Elder wrote that after a meal of hare his vigour was restored for nine days.

A hare brooch might therefore have been given as a love token or worn to enhance chances of conception. It has been suggested this particular hare has quite human facial features, which could suggest some sort of cult of Diana in the area.

This post is in: Late Iron Age to Roman (200 BC-AD 450)