The Leasingham Horse Brooch has been acquired for The Collection Museum in Lincoln thanks to a donation from the Friends of Lincoln Museums and Art Gallery.
The brooch, now on display at the museum, is the first known of its kind, and featured on ‘Great British History Hunters’ on More4 on Wednesday May 11 (see episode 3 at channel4.com).
The complete cast copper alloy Roman brooch in the form of a three-dimensional horse is thought to date from AD 43-410. It is a fairly realistic portrayal of a horse, with details of its head, mane and saddle or saddle cloth included in the design. The hinged pin of the brooch is intact.
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”.
The brooch featured in last year’s Beneath Our Feet display of recent finds from across the county, but will now become part of the museum’s permanent collection.
The brooch was unearthed two years ago in a field near Leasingham by metal detector enthusiast Jason Price, 48, from Grantham, and was described as having “rewritten the understandings around Roman brooches”.
Veteran Jason found the brooch during as part of a 'Detecting for Veterans' weekend. He said: "It was the last field of the weekend and it was heavily ploughed – so I didn’t hold out much hope of finding anything. You can imagine my surprise when my detector started buzzing. About eight inches down I found something caked in mud.
"At first I thought it was a piece of litter, but as I cleaned it off, my jaw dropped open. There it was – a horse brooch. I was shaking. I've found things like coins before, but never anything like this. Absolutely amazing!"
Dr Lisa Brundle, the Finds Liaison Officer at Lincolnshire County Council, said: "The horse would have originally appeared gold-like and the recesses probably once contained bright red, blue or yellow enamel. It would have been a spectacular sight on someone's robe.
"This type of Roman horse brooch is incredibly rare in Britain – and is the second only to have been found in the UK. The only other one is in the British Museum and is decorated differently - with spots of enamel only. The Leasingham horse, however, is in a league of its own with its pin situated below the legs and the realistic depiction of a saddle."
Coun Lindsey Cawrey, executive county councillor for cultural services, is delighted that this rare find is staying in the county. She said: “It will help tell the story of our county's rich history. We’re grateful to the Friends of Lincoln Museums and Art Gallery who celebrated 50 years of support last year, and this beautiful horse brooch is another treasured example of that invaluable support.”