Significant prehistoric hoard of gold bracelets unearthed in Co. Donegal, Ireland

An exciting new discovery has been unearthed in Co. Donegal consisting of a hoard of four gold bracelets by locals likely dating to the Bronze Age period, 2500-600BC in Ireland. Ireland is well-known in a European context for its prehistoric goldwork and one glance into the so-called ‘gold-courtyard’ in the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street, Dublin emphasis the wealth of material we have from our country.

The possession of gold artefacts went way beyond ornamental use, as acquiring such objects portrayed the status of the wearer and also thought to possibly have symbolic meanings connected to special ceremonies. As archaeologists, such finds helps us to understand an area within a specific of time period. Such finds as the Donegal hoard of bracelets, prompts many questions, such as-why were they buried together? Were they hidden for safe keeping, if so from who? Why did they not come back for them? How were they made? Is there other archaeology from this period close by and where they perhaps connected in some way?

The context and provenance of such artefacts are, it can be argued, just as important as the artefacts themselves as without such information, the artefacts are ‘floating in space’ so-to-speak. This is one of the many reasons why metal detection devices are heavily restricted by licence in Ireland, to prevent the loss of information, which cannot be replaced. It is also important to mention that all artefacts found in Ireland automatically belong to the state, cannot be sold and must be reported to the National Museum within a short timeframe of 96 hours. These laws safeguard our heritage as all artefacts found in our country belong to all of us and ensure they are in the right hands.

We are looking forward to hearing more about these artefacts in the near future and what information they may hold!


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Prehistoric gold artefacts discovered in Donegal. CREDIT Caroline Carr of the Donegal County Museum