Ancient gold haul now on display in Donegal museum

The Bronze Age gold haul was discovered in East Donegal.
The Bronze Age gold haul was discovered in East Donegal.

One of the largest hauls of ancient gold artefacts ever discovered in Ireland has gone on display in Letterkenny.

Donegal County Museum is currently displaying the priceless Tullydonnell Lower Gold Hoard until this Saturday, November 30.

The gold hoard, dating from the Late Bronze Age (1200 to 800BC) was discovered by chance in June 2018, when farmers took the opportunity of a dry summer to improve drainage at the base of a field at Tullydonnell Lower in East Donegal. They uncovered a small pit covered by a boulder which contained four solid gold overlapping rings.

Cathaoirleach, Colr. Nicholas Crossan said: “The Council is delighted that the people of Donegal will now have an opportunity to see these remarkable artefacts.”

Analysis of the metal has shown that they contain gold and small quantities of silver and copper consistent with Late Bronze Age. They are the heaviest intact prehistoric gold hoard ever found in Ireland. They may have been a way of storing bullion for manufacturing finer metalwork such as gorgets. It is believed that the gold ore may have originated in Cornwall, England.

Judith McCarthy, Curator of Donegal County Museum said, “The discovery of this national treasure is so exciting for Donegal because it gives us a rare and valuable insight into the Bronze Age archaeology of our county.”

Admission is free and for school tours and groups booking is essential. Opening hours are 10am to 4.30pm Monday to Friday.