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Treasure found near Wrexham - Late Bronze Age artefacts found in Rossett Community declared as treasure

A Late Bronze Age hoard of two gold artefacts, which are thought to be dated to around 1000-800 BC, or 3,000-2,800 years ago, have today (26th March 2015) been declared treasure by H.M. Coroner for North East Wales.

The hoard of two gold penannular rings, which arepersonal ornaments known as lock-rings, were discovered in the Community of Rossett in June 2012 and March 2013 by Mr. John Adamson.

The artefacts were found in the same area of a field while Mr. Adamson was metal detecting on farm land. The artefacts, once buried all together as a hoard group, had been disturbed and separated, probably through a recent drainage ditch clearing event. 

The discoveries were reported at different times to Vanessa Oakden and Elizabeth Stewart, Finds Liaison Officers for the Portable Antiquities Scheme, based at National Museums Liverpool, and were subsequently reported on by museum archaeologists at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

The lock-rings are made of sheet gold. Their similar size (each approximately 3.5cm in diameter and 8-9g in weight) and decoration suggest they were once worn as a pair. Their circular faces have been expertly decorated with series of incised parallel and circular rings, providing an eye-catching decorative effect. They were once bi-conical in shape, but have since become crushed and distorted in the ground.

The wearer would have been a person of wealth and status within Late Bronze Age society. However, archaeologists are not entirely sure whether they were worn as ear-rings or perhaps worn to gather locks of hair, as their name suggests.

Lock-rings are discovered in significant numbers in Britain, Ireland and France. Similar examples have been found across north and west Wales, northern England and southern Scotland and in south eastern England.

In Wales, lock-rings have previously been found at Gaerwen, Anglesey, the Great Orme, Conwy and Newport, Pembrokeshire. This largely coastal pattern hints at possible trading and communication links between Late Bronze Age communities living in Wales and Ireland.

Analysis of the gold by Mary Davis, Principal Analytical Services Officer at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales indicates the lock-rings were made of high quality gold with smaller amounts of silver and copper also present. Although it is not yet possible to source the gold with certainty, alluvial or river sorted gold deposits are known in both Wales and Ireland, making one of these two sources a likelihood.

The lock-ring pair will be acquired by Wrexham County Borough Museum and Archives following their independent valuation, using funding secured via the Collecting Cultures stream of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Adam Gwilt, Principal Curator for Prehistory at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales said:

North-east Wales was a hotspot for the use and burial of gold ornaments during the Bronze Age. These small but exquisitely made lock-rings add further to this growing pattern, suggesting long lived connections with communities living in Ireland and other parts of Atlantic Europe.

“We think that these complete and prized objects of gold were carefully buried in isolated places as gifts to the gods, perhaps at the end of the lives of their owners.”

 Steve Grenter, Heritage Services Manager at Wrexham County Borough Museum & Archives said:

Wrexham County Borough Museum is delighted to acquire the lock-rings and we are grateful to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and the Saving Treasures, Telling Stories project for their assistance with the acquisition. We look forward to displaying the lock-rings in the museum alongside the Rossett hoard, which was discovered in 2002.”

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales operates seven museums across Wales National Museum Cardiff, St Fagans National History Museum, National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon, Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenafon, National Wool Museum, Dre-fach Felindre, National Slate Museum, Llanberis and the National Waterfront Museum, Swansea.  

Entry to National Museum Wales museums is free, thanks to the support of the Welsh Government. 

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Notes to Editors:

1.      The Portable Antiquities Scheme in Wales (PAS Cymru) is a mechanism to record and publish archaeological finds made by members of the public. It has proved a highly effective means of capturing vital archaeological information, while engaging with non-traditional museum audiences and communities.


2.      Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, in partnership with PAS Cymru and The Federation of Museums and Art Galleries of Wales (The FED), has recently received a confirmed grant of £349,000 from the Collecting Cultures stream of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

For 5 years from January 2015 – December 2019, the project Saving Treasures, Telling Stories will ensure a range of treasure and non-treasure artefacts can be purchased by accredited local and national museums in Wales. The artefacts purchased will date from the Stone Age to the seventeenth-century AD.

A three year programme of Community Archaeology Projects will be delivered across Wales, working with local museums, metal-detecting clubs, local communities and target audiences.

A distinctive website will be developed for PAS Cymru and hosted on the Amgueddfa Cymru website. This will also become the focus for up-to-the-minute information about treasure and non-treasure finds reported across Wales each year. Through the projects, archaeological collecting networks will be set up and a range of training, skill-sharing, bursaries and volunteering opportunities will be delivered.


3.    Making History’. Redevelopment Project at St Fagans National History Museum.

Wales’s archaeology collections will eventually be redisplayed in new galleries at St Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff.  This will be the first time that national collections of archaeology and cultural, industrial and social history will be displayed together in an open-air museum.  The project will also see the creation of an open-air archaeology zone and the re-imagining of two buildings – an Iron Age Farm and a Medieval Princes’ Court.