Talk about striking gold! Boy, 12, discovers a 2,000-year-old gold Roman bracelet in a field in Sussex


  • Rowan Brannan, 12, was walking with mum in Pagham when he spotted the band 
  • The Roman bracelet has since been studied by the British Museum 

A boy has discovered a rare gold Roman bracelet in a field where it had lain for 2,000 years.

Rowan Brannan, 12, was walking with mum Amanda, 44, when he spotted the band dating back to the first century – 1AD.

Stunned Rowan, from Bognor, Sussex, found the ‘exceptionally rare’ gold treasure during a dog walk in the Pagham area.

The Roman bracelet of armilla type has since been studied by the British Museum.

Amanda said: ‘Rowan has always been into finding all sorts of bits and pieces, he’s very adventurous and is always picking stuff up off the floor.

A boy has discovered a rare gold Roman bracelet in a field where it had lain for 2,000 years

A boy has discovered a rare gold Roman bracelet in a field where it had lain for 2,000 years

The Roman bracelet of armilla type has since been studied by the British Museum

Stunned Rowan, from Bognor, Sussex, found the 'exceptionally rare' gold treasure during a dog walk in the Pagham area

Rowan Brannan, 12, was walking with mum Amanda, 44, when he spotted the band dating back to the first century – 1AD

What are Roman armilla bracelets?

In the Roman empire, bracelets were usually worn by ladies as a sign of rank. 

Men did not tend to wear bracelets, as they were considered a mark of effeminacy.

However, they were publicly conferred by a Roman general to soldiers for deeds of extraordinary merit. 

In this case, the bracelets – known as armilla bracelets – were worn as a mark of honour. 

‘I’m forever saying “put it down, it’s dirty” – but on this occasion he kept holding this bit of metal, convinced that it was actual real gold.

‘I thought it was just some strapping from a fence or something – it was very dirty.’

Rowan said: ‘It was just normal to me because I pick up a lot of things that I probably shouldn’t!’

Rowan took the piece home and researched how to tell whether it was real gold.

It met all the criteria on the checklist – but the two did not realise Rowan’s lucky find was anything more until a hairdresser came to their house.

The hairdresser told Amanda and Rowan she was going on a metal detecting day-out so Rowan told her about the metal he had found.

Intrigued, the hairdresser took a photo of the piece and showed it to the leader of the metal detecting session.

He told the hairdresser that the piece looked old and recommended Amanda and Rowan contact a Finds Officer.

Amanda said: ‘Nothing in my mind thought it was gold until this point.’

In the Roman empire, bracelets were usually worn by ladies as a sign of rank. Men did not tend to wear bracelets, as they were considered a mark of effeminacy. However, they were publicly conferred by a Roman general to soldiers for deeds of extraordinary merit. In this case, the bracelets - known as armilla bracelets - were worn as a mark of honour

In the Roman empire, bracelets were usually worn by ladies as a sign of rank. Men did not tend to wear bracelets, as they were considered a mark of effeminacy. However, they were publicly conferred by a Roman general to soldiers for deeds of extraordinary merit. In this case, the bracelets – known as armilla bracelets – were worn as a mark of honour

The young boy found the incredible gold bracelet during a dog walk in the Pagham area

The young boy found the incredible gold bracelet during a dog walk in the Pagham area

They got in touch with the Finds Liaison Officer and have been receiving frequent updates about the piece since.

Rowan described how the excitement just kept building over the months following his discovery.

He said: ‘We took it to the jeweler and that got me a bit excited, and when it was sent away and it was like “gold” and then it got more exciting. Then it got to the treasure process.’

Amanda said: ‘It’s been rumbling on for a really long time.

‘The Finds Liaison Officer was very interested in the gold, so we had to go up to Horsham to drop it off because it’s then property of the Crown while it’s going through all of these different processes.’

Amanda said the piece has been analysed at the British Museum and has gone through the Coroner’s Court in a ‘fascinating’ process where they have been learning more and more about the bracelet.

She said: ‘It’s very exciting whenever we read an email and we have been kept up to date throughout the whole process.

‘The Coroner’s Court emailed us and said ‘it’s been so lovely to deal with Rowan’s treasure’.’

Amanda explained: ‘It’s a first century Roman bracelet of armilla type. An armilla bracelet – our understanding is – was given to the Roman soldiers as a mark of respect and valor and service.

‘It’s a portion, it’s not a full circular bangle. What makes it treasure is that it is over 300 years and a precious metal.’

After the valuation process Rowan was told it was ‘an exceptionally rare find’ for somebody who was just on a dog walk.

Amanda added: ‘It’s been brilliantly fascinating – we have learnt so many things and it is quite lovely to still be involved – so we can follow its story. It’s like wow – imagine who wore that. We have had a piece of history in our house’.



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