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H 290 x W 205 mm

148 pages

60 figures, 12 tables

Published May 2024

Archaeopress Archaeology


Paperback: 9781803276441

Digital: 9781803276458

DOI 10.32028/9781803276441

Recommend to a librarian

Combs; Zoomorphs; Burials; Winchester; York; Chesterton; Late Roman Britain

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Archaeopress Roman Archaeology 116

Double-Sided Antler and Bone Combs in Late Roman Britain

Stylistic Groups, Context and Status

By Nina Crummy, Richard Henry

Illustrated by Nick Griffiths

Includes PDF

Open Access
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This is the first detailed study and catalogue of a comb type that represents a new technology introduced into Britain towards the end of the 4th century AD and a major signifier of the late fourth- to fifth-century transition.



Preface and Acknowledgements


Chapter 1: Introducing the combs

The dataset


The combs in a wider context

Combs and Winchester: a preliminary note


Chapter 2: Their date of arrival in Britain

The evidence

Anomalies explained

Contemporary material and events


Chapter 3: Manufacture and marketing




Chapter 4: Aspects of the assemblage

Late Roman or Anglo-Saxon?

Other forms of composite comb used in late Roman Britain

An unusual variant


Chapter 5: Stylistic groups

Customised combs or devolved designs?

Horse combs

Dolphin and Devolved Dolphin combs

Owl combs

Straight-centred combs with long connecting-plates: very Devolved Dolphins/Owls

Concave-ended combs

End-plate groups and connecting-plate design


Chapter 6: Distribution and context

Distribution and possible production centres

Distribution by end-plate group

Archaeological contexts: baths, votives and burials

Site type


Chapter 7: Combs from funerary contexts


The importance of age

Female status and identity

Comb position

Body position



Chapter 8: Conclusion

Concentrations and gaps

Burial data and typology

Valued objects, further research



Combs from inhumation burials

Other combs from cemeteries (disturbed grave goods?)

Combs from non-funerary contexts

Sites with double-sided composite combs not in the catalogue but used in Figure 6.1


Appendix 1: Combs by the sex and age of the human remains

Appendix 2: Concordance by end-plate group

Appendix 3: Concordance by site type


About the Author

Nina Crummy is an independent researcher working mainly on Roman small finds from eastern and southern England. Chiefly known for her work on small finds from Colchester, Winchester and Silchester. her research interests include zoomorphic objects and items made from skeletal materials. Graduating from Keele University in 1971, she has an MA from the University of Wales Trinity St David (2014) and is a Senior Visiting Research Fellow of the University of Reading.

Richard Henry is a Doctoral Research Student at the University of Reading and Curator of Archaeology for Southampton City Council. A find specialist and numismatist, he has a particular interest in late Roman Britain and the 5th century transition. A graduate of the University of Wales, Lampeter, he gained an MSc from Bournemouth University (2016), where he is a Visiting Research Fellow. While the Finds Liaison Officer for Wiltshire, he curated the award-winning exhibition ‘Terry Pratchett: HisWorld’.