Aside

National Museum of Ireland

26 Sep

This week, some friends and I went to check out the National Museum of Ireland, specifically, the archaeology exhibition. I was surprised at the number of artifacts contained here—and really enjoyed viewing and reading about each one. However, I was particularly drawn to a beautiful gold collar from 800-700 B.C found in Gorteenreagh, Co. Clare.

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During the Later Bronze Age, goldsmiths made many ornaments out of sheet gold, the finest being large gold collars, or ‘gorgets’. Made up of five to seven separate pieces, the collar is combined into one piece by ends consisting of two discs. The lower disc is attached to the collar by a gold wire, while the upper disc is held in place by the lower. There are nine surviving gold collars/fragments of gold collars, the rest have been lost or melted.

Gorgets would have been worn on the upper part of the chest, and some sources suggest these would have been worn by rich Irish warrior kings. In the gorget, gold was used to emphasize its weight and suggest power.

I was also intrigued by the simpler artifacts on display. One display case contained two cauldrons, a flesh hook, and bucket from 900-500 B.C. Cauldrons, also from the Later Bronze Age, may have been used for boiling liquids and food by adding hot stones, or possibly for beer making. These cauldrons consisted of a number of bronze sheets riveted together and could be suspended over heat. Some early Irish tales talk about magic cauldrons, suggesting that the meals cooked in these may have been a part of some rituals.

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Flesh hooks, such as the one in this photo, may have been used to remove hot meat, and may also have been considered ritual objects.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time at the museum learning about ancient Ireland. And I got to meet this guy!

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Shannon Smith

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