December 23, 2016


We're short of Frankincense and myrrh, but just for you this Christmas here's five pieces of archaeological gold, for my last Five on Friday until next year. (Not sure if anyone else is doing one this week, but if they are you'll find the link here.)

Number 1 is a torc (neck ornament) from the Snettisham hoard. It's one ofmore than 150 pieces of Iron Age gold found in the 1950s in a field near the Norfolk seaside town of Snettisham,. It's not clear where the items came from originally, but it's been suggested that they were part of the royal Iceni treasure. (Queen Boadicea's tribe.)

Here's the Rillaton Cup. Found in a Bronze Age round barrow in Cornwall. Excavated in 1837 and containing a centrally-placed inhumation in a stone cist measuring 2m by almost 1m. Human remains were found along with grave goods including the Rillaton Gold Cup, a bronze dagger, beads, pottery, glass and other items. The squashed cup above is from Ringlemere in Kent. Found in 2001 by metal detectorists.

This is a lunula, a moon-shaped neck decoration dating from the Neolithic onwards. Mostly found in Ireland, but they have been discovered across Europe. They were probably signs of status, altough no-one is exactly sure. They appear to have been phased out and replaced by torcs in the Bronze Age,
The Mold cape, from near Mold in North Wales. Found in 1833 in a Bronze Age burial. The cape is clearly ceremonial since wearing it would make it impossible to move the arms. It is extremely narrow and almost certainly worn by a woman. 

This is the magnificent belt buckle found in the best preserved Anglo-Saxon boat burial at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk. The site was excavated in 1939 and is one of the richest graves dating from the period (early 7th century). The grave is possibly that of Rædwald, the ruler of the East Angles, and there are many parallels with the poem Beowulf. 

Merry Christmas one and all!


  1. Enjoyed your unique post. Quite lovely.

    Five golden beauties. That belt buckle really catches my eye.

    Wishing you a very Happy Christmas!

  2. How wonderful! I'm sure I've seen the torc and the buckle on display somewhere, probably the British Museum but the others I've never seen. Thanks for all the fascinating facts and wonderful photos. Seasons greetings, have a joyful and peaceful weekend:)

  3. Beautiful post! I love the first one. I am very interested in learning about the Iceni tribe as they are from my part of the world lol.

    Happy Five on Friday. Thanks so much for all the unique posts you've shared over the year. I love reading all the history!

  4. Fascinating five! The decoration on these ancient pieces is incredible when you consider the tools they had - amazing craftsmanship.

  5. A wonderful array of gorgeous golden archeological finds. Have you seen the recent horde uncovered in Jersey. Coins and golden torcs. Have a great Christmas. B x

  6. So interesting to see these pieces and the links to Queen Boadicea and Beowulf.

    Happy Christmas!

    Angela - Garden Tea Cakes and Me

  7. I'm always amazed when I see items of such beauty and intricacy produced so long ago without today's modern tools and techniques. We're so lucky they've survived.

    Wishing you a perfect 2017.


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