Spatha Scabbard Slide

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Roman gladius or spatha scabbard slide serpent shape





Material  Bronze/ Copper Alloy
Dimensions 8.0cm long x 1.6cm wide
Roman Empire Early 3rd Century AD

Bronze sepent shaped Spatha or shorter semi-spatha scabbard slide. This piece would have been attached to the scabbard or sheath of the 3rd or 4th Century Spatha or Semi-spatha. (see reference pictures below on how it was mounted) 

It would have provided the loop required to suspend the sword from the shoulder using the baldric suspension method. (2)

A similar example is listed here (3) discovered in South Shields, England where there was a long Roman occupation of the 3rd Century.

A stable patina covers the piece originally most likely some type of copper/bronze alloy.  The front attachment area has an intricate line pattern that appears similar to a spider web.  The main loop also has two eye like engravings, as if to indicate the head of the serpent.  A narrowing "tail" continues to the end, allowing for a second loop and attachment section.  A unique and rare complete example. 

This item was found in the same location as the following other pieces.

Dragon head Ring Buckle

Spatha Scabbard Chape

Perhaps they belonged to the same sword and belt pieces.  All are from the early 3rd Century and match the period.

Picture of nearly identical example from "Jagsthausen" Germany.  (photo by R.K Dixon) (2)

Mounting  Example (photo by M. DANIELS) (2)


-painting by Agnus McBRIDE

Click on Pictures for higher resolution

Close up View of the two mounting studs.









Close up View of the front mounting stud.

Close up View of the back mounting stud.


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(1) References to similar items: FEUGERE, Michel; Weapons of the Romans, page 121 2002.

(2) Reference to similar items: STEPHENSON, I.P; Roman Infantry Equipment "The Later Empire", page 67 & 73 2001.

(3) Reference to similar items: BISHOP, M.C & COULSTON, J.C.N; Roman Military Equipment "From the Punic wars to the Fall of Rome", page 158 2006.

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