Bronze Age Gold from Wales

Middle Bronze Age gold strip

This is a highly decorated gold strip fragment with one surviving end or terminal, probably once part of a delicate gold bracelet. The decoration comprises four parallel lines of punch or stamp decoration in repeated flattened S-shape motifs. There is a small perforation through the strip, near the terminal. It was discovered in 2013 by a metal-detectorist as part of a scattered hoard in Llantrisant Fawr Community, Monmouthshire and later declared treasure. The hoard included items of gold and bronze jewellery, a bronze palstave axe and a bronze dagger and dates to the Middle Bronze Age.

This is a highly decorated gold strip, with one surviving and slightly convex terminal, which has been carefully shaped and smoothed along its edge. A small pin perforation is located near the terminal at mid-width across the strip. The perforation is 0.4mm in diameter, centring approximately 0.7mm from the terminal edge of the strip. The perforation is not perfectly round having hexagonal facets with rounded edges. At the opposite end, the strip has been deliberately cut with a straight bladed tool, such as a knife. On one side, linear grooves indicate unsuccessful cut marks partly through the metal and at a slight angle to the cut edge.

Four parallel linear zones of punch or stamp decoration in repeated flattened S-shaped motifs have been applied along the long axis of the strip. Each punch or stamp mark and linear zone is approximately 0.5-0.6mm wide, each line approximately 0.5-0.6mm apart, making a combined decorated width of approximately 4.5mm. The overall effect is to resemble twisted wire stranding, but in one integral piece. Soil still adheres within many of the stamp motifs, thereby concealing some of the detail in the decoration. Further cleaning and analysis would need to be undertaken to determine whether the bronze stamp used had single or multiple repeating groups of motifs.

While the back of the strip is flat, the upper decorated face has been grooved between each stamp zone and creating defined plain strip margins, approximately 0.6mm wide. The grooves are wide and curved, setting the stamped decoration in relief and creating a corrugated effect on the front face. This combination of grooving of decorative upper surface with a flat back suggests that the gold may have been cast, since repoussé working from the back surface would have created a corrugated sheet, here absent. The strip margin on one side is wider and the grooving more pronounced, though it is difficult to know whether this was intentional and relating to the function of the object, or not.

On the plain reverse side, it appears that the edges have been hammered over slightly, as evidenced by slight thickening and over-folding. Slight and regular linear depressions along the surface are probably related to the stamping of the strip. Around the terminal perforation, punched from the front of the strip, the excess gold has been smoothed or filed down.

Project Title: Gold in Britain’s auriferous regions, 2450-800 BC: towards a coherent Research Framework and Strategy. Status: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Network Grant funded project (2018-2019)

Open the image &lsquohoard - mixed bronze & gold, 23 objects’
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Open the image &lsquohoard - bronze & gold objects’
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For all other uses and formats please contact images@museumwales.ac.uk

What is personal use?
Open the image &lsquohoard - bronze & gold objects’
Image: © Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales Download (for personal use only)

Personal Use – images can be used by the person downloading them for research, study or creating learning resources. Images cannot be used for commercial purposes.

For all other uses and formats please contact images@museumwales.ac.uk

What is personal use?
Open the image &lsquohoard - bronze & gold objects’
Image: © Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales Download (for personal use only)

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For all other uses and formats please contact images@museumwales.ac.uk

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For all other uses and formats please contact images@museumwales.ac.uk

What is personal use?
Open the image &lsquoDecorated gold strip (front view, terminal detail)’
Image: © Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales Download (for personal use only)

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Collection Area

Archaeology & Numismatics

Item Number

2016.31H/1

Find Information

Site Name: Llantrisant Fawr, Monmouthshire

Collection Method: metal detector
Date: 2013 / September

Notes: Grid reference to be treated as CONFIDENTIAL. The hoard was discovered in September 2013, February & March 2014 while metal detecting on farm land under pasture in the Community of Llantrisant Fawr, Monmouthshire. The artefacts were discovered in a dispersed scatter over a distance of 55m, though with a central focus. An archaeological investigation of the find-spot was undertaken by Adam Gwilt and Mark Lodwick on 26th September 2013, confirming the find-spots and burial focus. The burial focus was located at the top of a low hill plateau with good views up and down the Usk Valley. The scattered find-spots extending downslope, suggesting more dispersal of the hoard, probably in recent times.

Acquisition

Treasure (1996 Treasure Act), 21/11/2016

Measurements

length / mm:38.9
width / mm:7.0
thickness / mm:0.3

Material

gold

Location

In store

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