Irish Hoards

16 Sep

            Upon walking into the National Irish Museum, the first thing I noticed were the displays with piles of metal weapons and instruments. This seemed strange to me at first so I approached the displays curious of what their significance was. To me it seemed a bit random that horns, jewelry and weapons were all in the same display. I came to find that the collections were called Hoards. Hoards seemed to be some sort of offering to the gods, which is interesting because in many other religions if one were to make and offering to a god you would look to the sky to make your offering. In many eastern religions you burn incense and that and it is seen that the smoke reaches up to the gods and those who have passed away. However, with the hoards it seems as if the gods have a connection to the ground and the earth, which speaks about the beliefs of the ancient religions of Ireland.

            The most interesting hoard to me was the Broighter Hoard. This hoard was a different from the other collections because this one did not have weapons, rather this hoard comprised of a replica boat, torc (a collar fastener), necklaces and a bowl. Also, instead of being made of bronze these artifacts were made gold. This may have signaled a change from a time where war was celebrated to one where culture and the arts became more popular. It is estimated that these were buried during the Iron Age in the 1st century BC. The boat tells us that the hoard was perhaps an offering to the sea deity Manannán mac Lir. The boat from the Broighter Hoard actually had so much significance that it was on the back of the Irish pound coin.

            Irish religion is very alien to me, I really had not even thought about it until I saw the exhibits. It is fascinating to see what the people valued at the time and what they thought the gods would value. These hoards offer a window into the religious life of this ancient people.

 

– Joseph Hester

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