Snake Armband

The Romans loved jewellery, and bracelets were very popular. Snakes were often used as a design for bracelets, as well as for other types of jewellery like rings. The bracelet to the right is made of gold and was found in Pompeii, the town in Italy that was destroyed by a volcano in AD79.


A long strip of gold would be engraved with the snake pattern first, then bent round to form a spiral to fit on the upper arm. The picture on the left shows the same armband from the other direction, so you can see the decoration on the tail.

another gold snake armband with two snake heads

a gold ring with two snake heads



A more elaborate armband with a snake body and a human head and body. This is from the Hellenistic period, a little earlier than Rome and to the east. This sort of bracelet may have given the Romans the idea for their snake armband. Metropolitan Museum, New York.


Snake headed ring in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford


Gold snake ring in the Ashmolean




Left is a bronze armband with two snake heads - but this one is Celtic. It was found at Snailwell in Cambridgeshire.

Did the Celts get the idea from the Romans? Or did they both get the idea from the Greeks?

How is the Celtic design different from the Roman design?