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17.04.2021

Ardagh Hoard

The Ardagh Treasure, best known for the Ardagh Bowl, is a metalwork treasure from the 8th and 9th centuries. Discovered in 1868 by two local boys, Jim Queen and Paddy Flanagan, it is now on display in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin. It consists of a bowl, a bowl with a much simpler leg of copper alloy, and four brooches - three elaborately crafted pseudo-change brooches and one real ringed thistle type brooch; it is the last object in the hoard, and it suggests that it may have been deposited around 900 AD.

The bowl is considered one of the best known works of island art, and Celtic art in general, along with the Book of Kells, and is thought to have been made in the 8th century AD. Exquisite brooches, essentially the same as those worn by influential laymen, were apparently worn by monastic clergy to fasten the vestments of the time.

The treasure was found in late September 1868 by two boys, Jim Quinn and Paddy Flanagan, digging in a potato field on the southwest side of a rath (ring fort) called Rirasta, near the village of Ardagh, County Limerick, Ireland. Flanagan remained in Ireland and is buried in the pauper cemetery in Newcastle West. Queen emigrated to Australia, spending the last years of his life in Melbourne. He is buried in Faulkner Memorial Park in the city after his death in 1934.

There were other items in the bowl, covered simply by a stone slab; the pieces must have been buried in a hurry, probably temporarily, as if the owner probably intended to return for them later. The age of the brooches found with the bowl indicates that it was not buried until the Viking period. It was sold by Queen's mother to George Butler, a Catholic bishop of Limerick.

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