Gold lock rings which could have been gifts to gods in Bronze Age Wales are declared treasure

By Ben Miller | 30 March 2015

Gold rings could have been carefully buried in isolation as gifts to the gods from wealthy Bronze Age wearer

A close up photo of a gold lock ring from the bronze age against a black background
A close-up of one of the Bronze Age lock rings found in Rossett, measuring around 3.5cm in diameter© National Museum Wales
Two crushed and distorted sheet gold Bronze Age lock rings, each weighing less than ten grams and found nine months apart in the same field in the Welsh village of Rossett, have been declared treasure by the Coroner and will be bought by Wrexham County Borough Museum and Archives.

John Adamson was searching on farm land in June 2012 and March 2013 when he discovered the artefacts, which were once buried as part of a hoard group but had been disturbed and separated by a drainage ditch clearing event.

The circular faces of the ornamental penannular rings suggest they were once worn as a pair of earrings or hair accessories by a wealthy member of late Bronze Age society, expertly decorated with incised parallel and circular rings.

A close up photo of a gold lock ring from the bronze age against a black background
© National Museum Wales
“North-east Wales was a hotspot for the use and burial of gold ornaments during the Bronze Age,” says Adam Gwilt, the Principal Curator for Prehistory at National Museum Wales.

“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.”

A close up photo of two gold lock rings from the bronze age against a grey background
© National Museum Wales
Similar lock rings have been found across north and west Wales, northern England and southern Scotland and south-east England. In Wales, their coastal burials - including finds in Gaerwen, Anglesey, the Great Orme and Newport - hint at possible trading and communication links between Late Bronze Age communities living in Wales and Ireland.

Mary Davis, the Principal Analytical Services Officer, said the rings were made of high quality gold with smaller amounts of silver and coppy, consistent with deposits in Wales and Ireland.

  • The pair will be independently valued and put on display in Wrexham alongside the Rossett Hoard, which was found in 2002.

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These are amazing. Looking forward to seeing them in the museum
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