The Coggalbeg Hoard: The Roscommon lunula
In March 1945 when a Roscommon farmer, Mr Hubert Lannon, was cutting turf on his bog in the west of Ireland. As he sliced through the dark peaty soil a flash of gold suddenly caught his eye. Bending down for a closer inspection he slowly uncovered a hoard of golden treasure. It consisted of a beautiful gold lunula and two gold discs, which had lain hidden in the depths of the bog for over 4,000 years. Hubert carefully gathered the precious items together and then brought them home for safe keeping.
The largest item in the newly discovered hoard was a beautiful gold lunula. This exquisitely made gold collar was shaped like a crescent moon. Flat and thin, it had been fashioned out of hammered sheet gold and was decorated in inscribed motifs. An item of great prestige it was probably originally worn around the neck. Lunulae, such as this one, appear to be a distinctively insular form of jewellery, with the vast majority of the 100 or so known examples coming from Ireland. They are a striking testament to the metal working skills of our Early Bronze Age ancestors.
The Roscommon lunula was also accompanied by two gold discs that were similarly made from sheet gold. These objects were decorated with a cross motif surrounded by a double circle. This was the first time lunula and discs had been found together. Indeed, the distinctive shapes of these objects led some experts to suggest that they may represent stylised moon and sun symbols. Why they were buried together in a bog remains uncertain, but it is possible that they represented an offering to some prehistoric deity. This deposition of precious objects in watery places is characteristic of much of Irish prehistory.