Bronze Age Gold from Wales

This gallery illustrates the earliest gold artefacts held in the national collection by Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. These precious and stylish items of jewellery, marked out the status and wealth of their wearers, while illustrating exceptional skills of their makers within these early metal-working societies. They span a period of over 1,500 years during prehistory, from the Copper Age (2450-2150 BC) and throughout the Bronze Age (c. 2150-800 BC).

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This gallery illustrates the earliest gold artefacts held in the national collections. These precious and stylish items of jewellery marked the status and wealth of their wearers, while illustrating the exceptional skills of their makers in these early metal-working societies. They span a period of over 1,500 years during prehistory, from the Copper Age (2450-2150 BC) and throughout the Bronze Age (c. 2150-800 BC).

The earliest objects probably used gold sources from Ireland and Cornwall. By the middle part of the Bronze Age (1500-1150 BC), it seems probable that river deposited gold sources from mid and north Wales were known and panned. That the gold hoards, large torcs and armlets of this period from Wales are particularly abundant and diverse is unlikely to be coincidental, but Irish, Cornish and Continental styles and gold sources also remained influential.

Since the existence of the Treasure Act 1996, the number of gold artefacts reported as treasure, often by metal-detectorists, has been significant. Even the smaller bracelets, hair- and ear-rings of the Late Bronze Age have new, emerging stories to tell and speak of complex making techniques and peoples.

This online resource has been created as part of a Research Network project recently funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, working jointly with National Museums Scotland.