Heritage Discoveries: The Great Clare Gold Find

In 1854 the largest hoard of gold objects ever found in northern Europe was dug up by railway labourers at Mooghaun in Co. Clare.

In March 1854 during the construction of the Ennis to Limerick railway line a group of workers dug up an incredible hoard of gold objects. The hoard was in low-lying ground in an area recently drained and may have been in a cavity or a small chamber or under a stone. The finders divided up the gold amongst themselves and sold it to jewellers. A lot of the gold was melted down to make new objects. The contents of the hoard included neck rings, collars, bracelets and gold ingots. Part of the hoard, just 146 gold artefacts, were displayed at a meeting of the Royal Irish Academy later the same year. It was fortunate that plaster casts were made of these as the whereabouts of only the 29 artefacts in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin and the British Museum in London are known today. The total original number of objects will never be known. The objects date to the Dowris phase of the late Bronze Age about 900 – 700 BC.

Further Reading

George Eogan, 1983. The Hoards of the Irish later Bronze Age. Dublin, 69-73.

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