Irish Treasures

The throne of the quiet man: the Súgán chair

by Alva Mac Gowan.

This chair has a story to tell. Its tightly twisted seat is made from straw woven by the hands of children who could not hear, and so their touch and sight was all the stronger. Its body was carved...Read More »


A 15th century medicinal recipe from Co. Louth

A late 15th century inscribed slate was discovered at Smarmore church, Co. Louth in 1959 and is now on display at the National Museum of...Read More »


Shrine of the Miosach: An Early Irish Book Shrine

This ornate book shrine comes from Clonmany, Inishowen, Co. Donegal, where the O’Morrison family were its traditional keepers. Associated with Saint Cairneach, the oldest parts of the shrine appear to date from the 11th century AD.

The core of the artefact consists of a single...Read More »


A Late Bronze Age gold necklace from Tumna, Co. Roscommon

Tumna gold balls

In 1834 a group of men ‘landing potatoes’ at Tumna, Co. Roscommon discovered a collection of curious gold balls. Dating from the Late Bronze Age, these ancient artefacts had lain hidden in the ground for  nearly...Read More »


A Bronze Age Spindle Whorl from Tipperary

 

This decorated spindle whorl was discovered inside a Late Bronze Age house that was excavated by Bernice Molly at Killmelly, Co. Tipperary (Molloy 2009, 67). Used to make thread, spindle whorls played an important role in textile production. They consist of a perforated disc...Read More »


The Archer-Butler luck stone

The Archer-Butler luck stone

Originally owned by the Butler family of Granvilla, near Cahir, Co. Tipperary, this small amulet was traditionally used to protect cattle from disease. It consists of a crystal ball weighing c. 200g that is mounted...Read More »


A Barbary Ape Skull from Navan Fort, Co. Armagh

Barbary ape skull from Navan Fort (after Lynn 2003, p. 49)

Traditionally associated with the kings of Ulster, the great hilltop enclosure of Eamhain Mhacha (Navan FortRead More »


Ireland's Oldest Cannon?

Ireland’s oldest cannon (after McEneaney & Ryan, 2004, p. 113, Photo Terry Murphy)

In 1497, Waterford city was besieged by an army led by Perkin Warbek, a Flemish...Read More »


The Comerford Crown, a Bronze Age gold 'hat' from Tipperary

The Comerford Crown

The Comerford Crown is striking gold artefact, whose origins probably lie in the Late Bronze Age. It was discovered in 1692 in a peat bog at Bearna Eile (The Devil’s Bit), Co. Tipperary. As the picture...Read More »


Five Ancient Musical Instruments from Ireland

Ireland has rich musical heritage and as these instruments illustrate, it dates back many thousands of years.

 

1. The Wicklow Pipes, c. 2200-2000 BC

The Wicklow Pipes in-situ...Read More »


The Lismore Drinking-Horn Mount

The Lismore drinking-horn mount (British Museum)

This unusual and fantastical beast was discovered in Lismore, Co. Waterford during the 19th century. Fashioned out of bronze, it originally adorned the pointed...Read More »


The Irish Rebel and the Ancient Sword

After the Battle of New Ross in 1798 an ancient blade was prised from the hands of a dead rebel fighter. The unnamed warrior had gone to war not with an iron pike like so many of his compatriots, but something much older. He died clasping...Read More »


A Bronze Age Gold Disc from Co. Wexford

The Enniscorthy disc (© Metropolitan Museum)

It often sparks debate on our social media platforms when I share images of Irish artefacts that are housed in foreign museums. Typically people...Read More »


A Pair of Late Bronze Age Gold Bracelets from Co. Offaly

Derrinboy gold armlets

The Derrinboy armlets are a pair of magnificent gold bracelets that were found deep within a County Offaly bog in 1959. Dating from the Late...Read More »


A Twelfth Century Hand-Warmer

Image after Armitage, H. 2002, p.129

Dating from the 12th century and decorated in foliate patterns, this small, bronze ball is actually a hand-warmer. Inside the metal sphere, which unscrews into two halves, is an iron cup that held...Read More »


The Moylough Belt Shrine

The Moylough Belt Shrine (photo National Museum of Ireland)

Dating from the 8th century AD, the Moylough belt shrine is one of the great treasures of early Ireland. Fashioned out of bronze and silver, it was found in 1945...Read More »


The Lisdrumturk Cauldron

The Lisdrumturk Cauldron (© Monaghan County Museum)

Discovered in 1854, by turf-cutters digging in a Co. Monaghan bog, the Lisdrumturk Cauldron is an exceptional example of Late Bronze Age metal-working. It was undoubtedly a high status object and its burial in...Read More »


Roman coins from Newgrange

Roman coins from Newgrange (© NMI)

Constructed in the Neolithic, the great  passage tomb at Newgrange appears to have remained a place of spiritual importance long after it’s Stone Age builders had...Read More »


The Ballynolan Thistle Brooch

Ballynogan thistle brooch (© Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge)

The Ballynolan thistle brooch was found near Pallaskenry, Co. Limerick in 1836. It was discovered by John Kennedy as he cleared...Read More »


The Waterford Knife

The Waterford Knife

The Waterford Knife (After Okasha 1992, p. 522)

The rare and unusual Waterford knife was discovered during an archaeological excavation in the south eastern Irish...Read More »


The Derreen bucket

Derreen Bucket (after Comey 2010, 204)

The elaborate, stave-built Derreen bucket was discovered in a peat bog in Kilmurry parish, Co. Clare in 1938.  It formed part of small hoard of objects that were either hidden or lost in...Read More »


A Viking Age toy boat from Dublin

Winetaven Street model boat

This image shows a wooden replica of an ocean-going Viking longboat that was discovered during the National Museum of Ireland’s excavations at Winetavern Street, Dublin. Most likely a toy, the vessel measures approximately 37 cm...Read More »


The Keshcarrigan bowl

Keshcarrigan bowl by Jane Hawkes (CC)

This beautiful bronze bowl was discovered in 1854 in a river flowing into Lough Scur, which lies just north of Keshcarrigan in Co. Letrim. Iron Age in date and measuring approximately 14 cm...Read More »


The Knowth macehead

This stunning flint macehead was found deep within the darkest recesses of the great Neolithic passage tomb at Knowth, Co. Meath. Hidden for millennia, it was discovered in 1982 during an excavation carried out by Dr George Eogan. It is fashioned out a single...Read More »


Stolen treasure: The Coggalbeg Hoard

The Coggalbeg hoard (© National Museum of Ireland)

The remarkable tale of the Coggalbeg hoard. This story begins in March 1945 when a Roscommon farmer, Mr Hubert Lannon, was cutting turf on his bog in the west of Ireland....Read More »


The Broighter hoard

The Broighter hoard (National Museum of Ireland)

The remarkable Broighter hoard, arguably the finest treasure trove of the Irish Iron Age, was discovered on a February evening in 1896 by two Derry men, Thomas Nicholl and James Morrow. They...Read More »


The Aghadoe Crozier

This photo shows the Aghadoe Crozier, a beautiful 12th century artefact found at Aghadoe, County Kerry in 1848. The crozier is intricately carved out of walrus ivory and is decorated in the Viking Urnes style. It...Read More »


Facing the past. An anthropomorphic Bronze Age pot from Cork

 

Bronze Age pottery face (after photo by John Sunderland)

An exceptional collection of Bronze Age artefacts was recently found near Mitchelstown in County Cork (Kiely & Sutton 2007). They included a ceramic spoon and three pottery vessels, two of...Read More »


Irish bog bodies, some recent discoveries

Another ancient body has just been recovered from the depths of an Irish bog. This time the remains consist of a partial bog body that appears to have been covered in a leather bag (Read More »


Mystery artefact sheds new light on Irish Bronze Age weaving

An unusual prehistoric artefact was recovered during the archaeological excavation of one of a pair of Middle Bronze Age structures identified at Knockgraffon, Co. Tipperary (along the N8 Cashel to Mitchelstown Road scheme, see McQuade, Molloy & Moriarty 2009). Each of the structures was defined by a circle of postholes...Read More »


Bog Butter find from Co. Offaly

Two county Co. Offaly men are in the media spotlight this morning after uncovering a large quantity of bog butter. Brian Clancy and his uncle Joe unearthed the find while working at Ballard Bog, near Tullamore, Co. Offaly on Tuesday. The bog...Read More »


16th century Irish Hipsters

I recently spotted what appeared to be remarkably modern looking haircuts in Albrecht Druer’s woodcut of 1521 AD[i]. This image […]

Through the millennia: Irish Archaeology in photos

Here is another selection of  amazing images from our Photography Competition, this time spanning the entire breadth of Irish archaeology. Don’t […]

A Mesolithic cemetery: Ireland’s oldest burials

  On a bend of the River Shannon, Ireland’s largest watercourse, a small band of hunter-gathers came to together nearly […]

Images of Newgrange through the ages

The Neolithic  passage tomb at Newgrange is the most visited archaeological site in Ireland. Over 5000 years old it pre-dates the first phase of […]

The Broighter hoard

The remarkable Broighter hoard, arguably the finest treasure trove of the Irish Iron Age, was discovered on a February evening […]

The Oseberg Viking ship burial

  In 1904 a remarkable archaeological site was uncovered at Oseberg, Norway. It consisted of an astonishingly well-preserved Viking ship […]