The Reporter
ssue 492, 29 September 2003
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Searching for ancient Irish gold

 

Late Bronze Age gold boxes from Ireland, dated around 1000BCThe people of Bronze Age Ireland produced many intricate and large gold artefacts, including necklaces weighing up to two kilos. Leeds researchers are working to shed light on the mystery of where the gold came from to produce pieces on this scale.

All that glitters – late Bronze Age gold boxes from Ireland, dated around 1000BC

The gold may have been imported or found in Ireland. Rob Chapman from the school of continuing education and earth sciences and Eric Condliffe from earth sciences have built up a database of the properties of gold deposits in Great Britain and Ireland.

The gold artefacts found in Ireland can be tested for their silver content and the source of the metal identified from the database. Dr Chapman said: “The database has allowed meaningful provenancing studies to be undertaken for the first time.”

The research caught the interest of the natural historian and TV presenter Aubrey Manning who visited the team in Ireland and Leeds last year. The programme featuring their work, Mysteries of the Landscape, was broadcast on BBC2 last week. Dr Chapman and his team plan to publish more about their work in the next nine months.

Bronze Age techniques – Rob Chapman with Aubrey Manning, heating quartzite to make it brittle enough to be crushed to release the gold

Bronze Age techniques – Rob Chapman (left) with Aubrey Manning, heating quartzite to make it brittle enough to be crushed to release the gold

 
 


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