The images you'll see as you scroll down to the current text are all part of the story telling in my novel, Realms of Gold:Ritual to Romance.


Bianca Caldwell, pen name, Bianca Fiore, is a writer for an art magazine. In each of her monthly stories she describes an object used in ancient ritual.



Cross of Cong and the Clonmacnoise crozier

The cross consists of an oak cross, covered in gold, silver, niello, copper, bronze, brass, enamel, coloured glass, and is highly decorated in interlacing animals and serpents. It measures 30 inches tall and 19 inches wide and was used as a processional cross. It is said it contained a piece of the true cross.

The cross of Cong was made in 1123 in Roscommon at the order of the High King of Ireland of the time, Turlough O'Conor. It is oak covered in plates of gilt-bronze,

There is an inscription which reads: In this cross is preserved the cross on which suffered the Founder of the World, and Pray for Turlough O'Conor, King of Ireland, and Abbot O'Duffy, and for the artist Maol Iosa O'Echan.

The cross is now on display in the National Museum, Dublin.




A crosier is the stylized staff of office (pastoral staff).

Clonmacnoise crozier

Ancient Celtic Gold Crosses


Holderness Cross

This high-status gold and garnet cross was found in Burton Pidsea on the Holderness Peninsula, East Yorkshire. It dates to the seventh century and is an early example of the Christian symbol of a cross being made in Anglo-Saxon England using a technique known from pagan jewellery of the period. The cloisonne cell work is filled with shaped garnets; only fifty-eight of the original ninety-five garnets survive. X-Ray diffraction has indicated that the garnets were set in a bedding of calcium carbonate, a technique common for Anglo-Saxon jewellery. This technique was being used in Anglia which is where the cross may also have been made.

There are similarities between the Holderness cross and another found in a grave at Ixworth in Suffolk in about 1856.

Ixworth Cross
The cross was found in a grave at Ixworth in Suffolk in about 1856.

The grave also contained a jewelled disc brooch (AN1909.454) and some iron staples thought to be from a coffin.



Ixworth Brooch
These items suggest the owner was certain wealthy and probably important to their community.


Cross from the Anglo-Saxon Ship-Burial at Sutton Hoo


More Celtic Gold




Hollow gold balls. Late Bronze Age, Ireland. Graduated sizes and with holes suggest that these balls could have been strung together to form a necklace.


An Amber necklace and a gold dress fastener. 800-700 BC. Ireland. 



Metropolitan Museum of Art, Treasures of Early Irish Art 1500 B.C. - 1500 A.D. New York.

The Derrinboy armlets are a pair of magnificent gold bracelets that were found deep within a County Offaly bog in 1959. Dating from the Late Bronze Age, these precious artifacts formed part of a small hoard of objects that were discovered by Mr. Patrick McGovern as he was digging turf. 

 They are decorated with raised ribs of alternately plain and patterned repoussé work.  They come from what is termed as the Bishopsland Phase.  The repoussé technique involved hammering a design onto a piece from the back.



Celtic Hammered Gold Bracelet




Gold Bulla

Found in the Bog of Allen, Co. Kildare and dates to about 700 B. C. it can be seen in the National Museum of Ireland. These were enigmatic objects of lead covered in gold foil decorated with repoussé designs of concentric circles, semi-circles, triangles and other patterns.  It is believed they may have served as an amulet or an object to ward off evil or ensure fertility.

 


These gold lock-rings come from the Dowris phase of the Late Bronze Age and date to circa 800 - 600  B. C.  They have a diameter of 10 cm. and length of 5 cm. with an internal width of 1.35 cm.  They were found in Gorteenreagh, County Clare in 1948 and are now on view at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

These gapped conical ornaments, thought to have been used for holding hair in place, such as at the end of a plait, demonstrate the highest skill of the early Irish goldsmith.


National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology Decorated gold discs

The general belief is that the discs relate to a cult of the sun and that the cruciform shapes of the design are intended to represent its life-giving rays.


One interpretation of the gold discs is that they were placed as symbolic breasts on the chest of a king, creating an image that fused the leader with the life-giving deity…


A gold disc with almost prefect concentric circles within larger circles of the disc.



 Gold disc, perhaps a terminal from a collar or ear spool. 800-700 BC. National Museum of Ireland.  

Celtic Gorgets

This collar was found in a bog in Shannongrove, Co. Limerick, sometime before 1783. There are at least ten similar pieces from Ireland. We know that some of them come from the lower Shannon area. We do not know what they were used for, but they were probably ceremonial collars. On the inner side of the collar, under each of the circular terminals, is a hole. The collar probably rested on the chest and was held in place by a chain running between the two holes and passing round the back of the neck.





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.


Celtic (Ireland), 800-700 BC The Victoria & Albert Museum

There is some amazingly intricate repoussé work on this piece.  Repoussé 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!)