British Collection Highlights:

Ballyshannon 'Sun Disc'

Gold discs (‘sun-discs’) are circular ornaments made of thin sheets of beaten gold with simple raised decoration (repoussé). The design on the Ballyshannon disc of a cross shape surrounded by circles and geometric patterns is typical of these ornaments. Gold discs usually have a central perforation and were probably attached to a backing as they are fragile, and may have been worn on clothing as a button cover or spangle. They date to the Early Bronze Age, and in manufacture and style are quite similar to gold 'basket earrings' found in Beaker burials such the pair as from Radley, Oxfordshire.

The Ballyshannon ‘sun disc’ was found in 1696 by men looking for the place named in an Irish song where a man of gigantic stature was buried with gold ornaments. Its discovery is recorded in Camden’s Britannia, published in 1695, and is the earliest documented discovery of a prehistoric artefact from the UK.

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Sun Disc (Click to enlarge)

Ballyshannon 'Sun Disc' (AN1836p139.372)

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Bronze Age Gold Lunula

Gold lunula from Middleton, Co. Cork, Ireland (AN1927.2931)

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Alison Roberts
Updated April 2014 (