British Museum Acquires Internationally Significant 3,000-Year-Old Gold Pendant, Found In Shropshire
LONDON.- In May 2018, a metal detectorist in Shropshire made the find of a lifetime: cushioned by peaty soil for 3,000 years was an astonishingly well-preserved gold pendant decorated on all its shimmering surfaces with semi-circles and geometric motifs. One side shows a stylized sun – a rare and hugely significant addition to the art and iconography of Bronze Age Britain. Solar symbolism is a key element of Bronze Age cosmology and mythology across Europe, but before the discovery of this pendant was very rarely seen on objects found in Britain.
The pendant was immediately reported to the local Finds Liaison Officer for Shropshire & Herefordshire, who notified the Coroner and brought it to the British Museum under the Treasure process. The Coroner found the bulla to be ‘Treasure and the independent Treasure Valuation Committee recommended a value of a quarter of a million pounds to the Secretary of State. In light of the significance of the object, the British Museum was keen to acquire it and with support from Art Fund and the American Friends of the British Museum the pendant has now entered the collection.
The sun pendant, 3.6cm high and 4.7cm wide, is only the second ever found in Britain. The other – now lost – was discovered near Manchester in 1722. The quality of the object was so high that experts of the day believed it must be Roman. It was last recorded in 1806 before disappearing from sight. There are, however, parallels in Ireland – where six similar but not identical gold pendants – have been discovered. This type of pendant is known as a ‘bulla’, after the Latin word for bubble. A bulla is a large hollow pendant made of sheet gold which would have been suspended and probably worn as adornment. The contents of the hollow pendant from Shropshire remain a mystery and are the subject of on-going analysis by scientists at the British Museum.