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Broighter Gold

The Broighter Gold or more correctly, the Broighter Treasure, is a treasure trove of gold artifacts from the Iron Age in the 1st century BC that was found in 1896 by Tom Nicholl and James Morrow on farmland near Limavady, in the north of Ireland (now Northern Ireland). The treasure includes a gold boat 7 inches long (18 cm), a gold torc and bowl, and some other jewelry. The drawing from the hoard was used as the image on the 1996 issue of British one-pound coins of Northern Ireland and the gold ship depicted on the last Irish one-pound commemorative coin. The Broighter Collar and Broighter Ship also appeared on standard Irish postage stamps from 1990-1995. The National Museum of Ireland, which now holds the hoard, describes the Tork as "the finest examples of Irish latenia goldworking." Replicas of the collection are held at the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

The treasure was found near Loch - Foyle in a field in the Townland of Broighter 2 km north - west of Limavady in Londonderry. It was discovered by Thomas Nicholl and James Morrow while they were working as plowmen for Joseph L. Gibson in February 1896. They found the treasure while double plowing. This meant that one plow would follow the other to get extra depth. It was estimated that the finds were buried 14 inches (36 cm) deep and were in close proximity to each other.

The find was taken to the farm where Maggie (later Mrs. Nicholl) was washing things in the sink. They did not realize at the time that they were made of gold. The treasure was sold to the British Museum for six hundred pounds. It consisted of a miniature ship, complete with fixtures and oars; two necklaces, a bowl, and a torc (or hollow collar).  The find was originally described as a lump of mud. Moreover, the boat was so badly damaged by the plow that it later required a jeweler to work out its construction.

Part of the boat, the blocking, was discovered a few days later and sold by Morrow's sister to a jeweler in Derry.

The gold in the hoard has the same metallurgical character despite the variety of styles. Some appear to have been imported, while others may have been reworked or completely reworked.


The boat was a unique find, measuring 7.25 inches (18.4 cm) by 3 inches (7.6 cm) and weighing 3 ounces (85 g). It had benches, oars, two rows of nine oars each, and a paddle rudder for steering. It also included tacking implements, three forks, a lanyard, and a spear. The tools are much lighter than the ship's hull and are shown in the figure. The boat suggest that the treasure was a vow of the deposit of the Celtic god of the sea manannan. 

Broighter Gold


Another noteworthy item was a torso or collar 7.5 inches (19 cm) in diameter with buffer leads using a slot and spike . The hollow tube that made up the ring was 1.125 inches (2.86 cm) in diameter. The hinge is no longer there, but it had to be put on the collar. The fastener consists of a T-shaped piece that goes into the slot when the end is closed. You can then turn the section that grips the "T" and prevents it from opening.

The design has been applied in three ways, the most common of which is that of the classic conventional plant design found by chipping away at the surrounding gold. Additional details were attached to other areas, and the background was carved in geometric curves to add embellishment.

There are no comparable LaTen-style hollow ends in Ireland, although somewhat similar examples are known in Britain of the period, such as the Snettisham Torc . The design of the torc can easily be studied by imagining the hollow tube straightened and flattened. This was done when Arthur Evans first examined the hoard, and his drawing can be seen here. The design is consistent with other Irish jewelry and may have been a remake of a simpler British or Rhineland torc (Rhineland is one of the possible sources of gold).


An unusual gold bowl or model cauldron, made of a solid sheet of gold, was discovered. Its purpose is unclear, but it was probably a model of a large cauldron, which was an important object in the feasting culture of Iron Age Europe. It had four pendant loops on the outside, not all of which have survived. It is 3.5 inches (8.9 cm) in diameter and about 2 inches (5.1 cm) deep. It weighs over 1 ounce (28 g). Hanging bowls later became a hallmark of Post-Roman British and Irish art, often considered a feature of Celtic regions.

Chain necklaces

There are two chain necklaces made in the loop-in-loop technique, with clasps. One is 39.6 cm long with triple chains, the other with a single chain, but a more complex design. The chain technique spread from the Near East to the Roman world, where they were probably made; the clasps correspond to Roman and Etruscan designs.

Broighter Gold