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 Gold Jewelry 

The Early Bronze Age c.2500 - 1200 B.C.

Gold Lunulae

The Lunula was a crescent shaped  ornament thought to have been used to fasten cloaks around the neck.  There have been finds of Lunulae in Co. Mayo and Lissanover, Co. Cavan.  They had delicate designs engraved on the surface, usually simple zigzag patterns and diamond and triangular shapes.

Archaeologists believe that the lunula ornament is a completely native design, the whole of Ireland is peppered with finds of lunulae and the finds of lunulae on the European Continent are in regions easily accessible from Ireland.

A study of lunulae by Joan Taylor lists eighty-one lunulae as having been found in Ireland.  Of these, forty-five are in the National Museum of Ireland, nine in the British Museum, four in the Ulster Museum, seven in private hands and seven are now known to be lost; while the remainder are in museums and collections outside of Ireland.

There are also twenty-two lunulae known which are not of Irish provenance, eleven in Britain, nine in north-west France and one each in Luxembourg and Germany.  Since it being an Irish design is practically indisputable these latter may be exports or part of trophies taken by foreign invaders or even made by traveling Irish craftworkers.

Further Reading:

Coffey, G. - Gold Lunulae in Ireland and North Western Europe - (Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy section C.   xxvii , p252) 1907.

               - The Bronze Age in Ireland. Dublin. pub.1913 - (Distribution maps of lunulae finds in Ireland and Western Europe)

Macalister, R. A. S. Litt.D. Ancient Ireland - a study in the lessons of archaeology and history. ( pp 31-33) Methuen & Co. Ltd. London. first published 1935.

O'Kelly, Michael J.  Early Ireland: An introduction to Irish Prehistory (pp 179-180) Cambridge University Press 1989. Click link to buy from

Taylor, Joan J.  - Early Bronze Age gold neck-rings  in Western Europe. (Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society no. 34 pp. 259 -265  1968.)

                     - Lunulae Reconsidered. ( Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society no. 36 pp 38-81 1970.)


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