Bronze Age Gold from Wales

The Pigeon’s Cave, Great Orme hoard, Conwy

A Late Bronze Age hoard (1000-800 BCE) including two gold hair ornaments called lock-rings, found with two bronze tools: a palstave and a socketed awl.

The hoard was discovered near the Pigeon’s Cave on the north side of the Great Orme’s Head, near Llandudno. The discovery was first reported in a local newspaper on 20th May 1898. It was said to have been discovered by two young persons, in stone debris behind a large, loose rock near the cave. Although these artefacts may have once belonged to an individual of high-standing, no evidence for a burial was found. This hoard may have been a religious gift to the gods and goddesses of this time.

Most of the known lock-rings from Wales have been found along the north Wales coast, with other examples known within gold hoards from Gaerwen, Anglesey and Rossett Community, Wrexham. Similar lock-rings are known in Ireland and Britain, suggesting Irish Sea contacts and exchanges at this time. The close vicinity of the Bronze Age copper mine on the Great Orme’s Head, creating wealth and involving movements of metals, may have influenced the burial place selected for the hoard.