Gold Gorget Collar

The Later Bronze Age c.1200 - 600 B.C.

The Gorget refers to a more elaborate form of the lunula, it is crescentic in shape, worked in gold and attached to two decorated discs at each end.  Only eight of these collars are known to exist at this time (1)

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Glenisheen Collar

Gorteenreagh Collar

  The most famous collar of the "gorget" type was found in Glenisheen, Co. Clare in 1932.  It dates to the 8th century B.C. and is a semi-circular shape with two elaborate disc shapes at either end.  It was found in a rock crevice in the Burren area of Co. Clare and it is remarkably well preserved, it is c.31 cm in maximum diameter.

There is some amazingly intricate repoussť work on this piece.  Repoussť was a technique used by craftworkers in Europe which was adopted at this time by the native craftworkers to good effect.  The designs themselves are native in origin being similar to the designs on earlier lunulae and round based pots.  Some archaeologists believe this gives evidence that there were many foreign influences and invasions at this time because of the non-native techniques that were adopted by the native craftworkers in Ireland.

The Gorteenreagh Collar was discovered in 1948 and is dated to c. 800 - 600 bc. along with two lock-rings, two bracelets, and a fibula or dress fastener.  The Gorteenreagh Collar is much simpler in design than the Glenisheen, although the terminals are of the same design, unfortunately as can be seen from the photo, it did not survive the ravages of time and is a little dented. (not bad though after 2600 years!)

Another good example comes from Ardcrony, Co. Tipperary, and can be viewed in the National Museum of Ireland in Kildare Street, Dublin.

The Gorgets are unique to Ireland and are a pre-Celtic design.  The metalworkers of this time had great mastery and skill some of which has not been surpassed even today. 

1. Powell, T.G.E., The Sintra Collar and the Shannongrove Gorget: aspects of Late Bronze Age Goldwork in the west of Europe. North Munster Antiquarian Journal 16. pp.4, 11 printed 1973-4

O'Kelly, Michael J. Early Ireland: An introduction to Irish Prehistory . Cambridge University Press, 1989.reprinted:1993.1995. Click link to buy from Amazon.com

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