The discovery of four prehistoric solid gold arm bands in Co Donegal earlier this week has delighted experts at the National Museum.
It has also sparked their imaginations with regards to the circumstances in which they were buried and when exactly it might have been.
The Bronze Age artefacts were discovered several feet underground in an undisclosed location. They are four solid gold rings that are large enough to fit around a person’s wrist.
They are thought to date back to anywhere between 1,200-500BC and have been remarkably well preserved.
Maeve Sikora, keeper of Irish antiquities at the National Museum said that the discoveries were a ‘significant find’.
She told the Irish Times: “Every archaeological find tells you something new about a particular period. For us it’s not just about the objects but also the context – it’s the whole package.
“It’s an important archaeological find and will reveal something new about the area, that period of time and will add to our understanding of prehistoric Ireland and how rich the culture was then.”
She also praised the Donegal residents who discovered the rings and immediately got in touch with Donegal County Museum.
Sikora said: “These people were so helpful and quick to report it.”
The next step is to try to understand how and why the gold rings were buried there. Archaeologists have travelled to the site to begin their investigation.
Sikora added: “We’re trying to explore the context of which they were buried.”
It is a hugely significant discovery and marks the first major finding of ancient artefacts in Ireland since 1854, when over 150 gold ornaments, bracelets, rings and collars were uncovered in Co Clare.
The National Museum says that it was not unusual to bury ‘hoards’ of gold artefacts during the Bronze Age in Ireland.
Several gold and bronze objects have also been found in the Bog of Cullen in Co Tipperary over a 70 year period.
The National Museum adds that bogs were likely to have been seen as ‘special places’ by the people in Bronze Age Ireland.
Sikora said: “Ireland is really rich in Bronze Age artefacts.”
The latest discovery will go on display after further analysis.
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