This brooch of a running hare is made of bronze, framing a green enamel cell, with smaller cells of blue and red inside. The front part of the head is missing.
The brooch was attached by means of a sprung pin, which survives. It is believed to have been made by the Romans in the 2nd century AD, but it was found in an Anglo-Saxon grave on the Isle of Wight.
It is not known whether the brooch was brought to the Island by the Romans, or whether it travelled there later, but it does show how an item fashionable in one era can become a prized possession within a different culture.
The fact that the brooch is quite worn implies that this item was often used in the three centuries between its creation and the day when it was buried with its last owner.
It is commonly believed that the Romans introduced the brown hare to Britain. Many Romans and Anglo-Saxons believed that the animal was a symbol of fertility and of new growth.
In 1574, the Captain of the Isle of Wight, Sir Edward Horsey, introduced or restocked the Isle of Wight with hares. He proclaimed that “whosoever should bring in a live hare would have a lamb for him: by his care the Island was stored. We had infinite of coneys but not one hare.” Comment of Sir John Oglander.
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