4kgs of prehistoric gold discovered by farmer goes on display

What is being described as “an exceptional gold hoard”, dating from the Late Bronze Age (1200 to 800BC) will be on display in Donegal County Museum between Tuesday, November 19, and Saturday, November 30.

The ‘Tullydonnell Lower Gold Hoard’ was discovered in June 2018, when farmers took the opportunity of a dry summer to improve drainage at the base of a field at Tullydonnell Lower in East Donegal.

When draining the field, they discovered a small pit covered by a boulder which contained four solid gold overlapping rings.

Analysis of the metal has shown that it contains gold and small quantities of silver and copper consistent with Late Bronze Age Irish gold artifacts.

Together these objects weigh over 4kg. They are simple in appearance with hammered-up ends and are described as “in perfect condition”.

The artifacts are said to be “the heaviest intact prehistoric gold hoard ever found in Ireland”.

It is thought by historians the artifacts may have been a way of storing bullion for manufacturing finer metalwork such as gorgets. It is believed that the gold ore may have originated in Cornwall, England.

‘Remarkable artifacts’

Commenting on the display, Donegal Cathaoirleach Cllr. Nicholas Crossan said: “The council is delighted that the people of Donegal will now have an opportunity to see these remarkable artifacts over the coming two weeks.

Lynn Scarff, director of the National Museum of Ireland added: “The National Museum of Ireland is delighted to be working with Donegal County Museum to enable the display of the Tullydonnell Gold Hoard in Donegal.

The museum would like to recognise the significant cooperation of the finders and the local community in Donegal over the last 18 months.

Judith McCarthy, curator of Donegal County Museum said: “The discovery of this national treasure is so exciting for Donegal because it gives us a rare and valuable insight into the Bronze Age archaeology of our county.”

The display of the Gold Rings has been part-funded by the Creative Ireland programme and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Admission is free and all are welcome. The Museum will be facilitating school tours but booking is essential.

For further information contact Donegal County Museum, High Road, Letterkenny on [email protected] or by phone on: 074-912-4613.