Baldric Belt Tip

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Roman 5th century belt pieces, propeller stiffener



Material  Bronze/Copper Alloy
Dimensions Buckle: 55cm long x 4.3cm wide

Stiffener 1: 5.0cm long x 2.3cm wide

Stiffener 2: 4.5cm long x 2.6 cm wide

Stiffener 3: 4.3cm long x 1.7 cm wide

Stiffener 4: 4.6cm long x 2.0 cm wide

Stiffener 5: 4.0cm long x 1.4 cm wide

Belt decoration: 44mm long x 73 mm wide and 1.8mm thick.

Belt tip: 70mm long x 7.5m wide (top)

Roman Empire Late 4th to 5th Century AD

A Group of late Roman belt pieces and attachments.  This includes 5 belt stiffeners (all from different belts) a belt decoration or terminal piece, and a belt tip.


A bronze belt buckle plate made from a separate sheet from the actual buckle hinge and ring (now missing).  Two rivets hold the sheet to the curved hinge section, with remnants of the iron core still remaining.  The sheet section is nicely designed with a dot pattern that surrounds the edge, and then two rows of facing triangles.  These triangles then meet at two raised circles.  The dots continue around the circles forming another border. A very later Roman design reminiscent of the barbaric influences of the later 5th Century.

Propeller stiffener 1:

The stiffeners are both clearly cast bronze, as indicated by the casting line showing on the reverse.  The face of one of the stiffeners has two triangular sections facing a circle.  A incised border line follows the whole piece, while numerous concentric circles make up the center.  Two rivets remain intact, showing where they would have attached to the leather belt.  The gap between the rivet and end, is approximately 2mm, indicating that the leather belt was probably around that thick.

Propeller stiffener 2:

The second stiffener is similarly shaped, however has a Christian cross in the center with a circular border pattern around it.  A V shaped punched pattern then borders both triangular sections.  The holes remain for the rivets, however they are no longer present.

Propeller stiffener 3:

The 3rd stiffener is solid silver and has a raised central ridge for added strength and design. There are two concentric circles that go around the center border.  A small hole on the ridge shows where the compass like tool was seated prior to carving out the two circles.  There are two rivet holes on each end of the piece, unlike the others which only have one to secure it to the leather backing. This piece would have been part of an expensive belt set, since may of these stiffeners would have been on the belt.  The sheer weight of the silver itself would have been a very expensive purchase for a soldier.

Propeller stiffener 4:

The 4th stiffener is also cast of bronze and has a raised design in the center.  This design does not have a center circle design but has a more waisted shape.  There are also two rivet holes at each end.  One of the rivets still remains, while the other has been broken off.

Belt decoration

This piece is similar to examples found with other propeller stiffeners and acted as added decoration or as the ends to the belt.  The decoration is simply a cast piece of bronze with a similar decoration to it thank the previous stiffener.  It is possible that they were part of the same belt set.  The design is similar to the rolled end portions of the full chip carved belt here. The following original find included numerous belt decorations

Propeller stiffener 5:

This belt stiffener in more corroded and has a similar design to the silver one, including the four mounting points and raised central ridge.  Much of the design is no longer visible, however the design and shape is obvious.

Belt terminal:

This piece is made from sheet bronze that has been rolled into a cone shape.  There is a small mounting hole at the top where it likely was attached to a leather piece of the end of the belt.  This piece would have been the portion that was looped through the buckle and hung down from the belt.

There items did not come from the same belt, however they are stylistically and period wise associated.  The wide spectrum of these pieces is clear from these three examples alone.

The belt was an important part of the Roman Legionary's equipment and during the 5th Century they were still highly decorated and works of art unto their own. (1)(2)

-picture by Mike Bishop

Click on Pictures for higher resolution

Various other photos of belt pieces

Probable location and style of buckle ring

Specific area View (2)

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(1) References to similar items: FEUGERE, Michel; Weapons of the Romans, page 196 2002.

(2) Reference to similar items: BISHOP, M.C & COULSTON, J.C.N; Roman Military Equipment "From the Punic wars to the Fall of Rome", page 160,219 & 223 2006.

**Note on background. Close up view of the wall of the Colosseum of Pula, Croatia. Picture taken 2014