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A separate pin was attached to the head-end of the bow with a small hinge.In the second half of the 1st century AD, hinges were introduced to plate type fibulae.Unilateral springs are the earliest type, first appearing around the 14th century BC.

Therefore, a given fibula with hinge is not necessarily more recent than one with a spring. They represent an improvement on the earlier straight pin which was less secure and could fall out.

They could refer to a status or profession such as single woman, married woman, man, warrior, or chief.

Some Roman-era fibulae may symbolize specific ranks or positions in the Roman legions or auxiliary.

Technically, the Latin term, fibulae, refers to Roman brooches; however, the term is widely used to refer to brooches from the entire ancient and early medieval world that continue Roman forms.

Nevertheless, its use in English is more restricted than in other languages, and in particular post-Roman brooches from the British Isles are just called brooches (for example, the penannular brooches), where in German they would probably be fibulae.

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