Museum unveils prehistoric gold

A pair of solid gold bracelets, nearly 3,000 years old, will go on show at Saffron Walden Museum from Thursday 10 June.

This spectacular find of ancient treasure, found in north-west Essex in 2017, has been purchased through the Treasure Act by Saffron Walden Museum Society Ltd thanks to the generous support of the Arts Council England / V&A Purchase Grant Fund, Art Fund, the Museums Association Beecroft Bequest and two anonymous local donors.

The museum has also acquired a gold Roman ring with the support of the Gibson Walden Fund, and a small hoard of Roman silver coins.

The bracelets, which weigh nearly 200g between them, are in an open C-shaped design known from the late Bronze Age, around 900 to 750 BC. They may have been deposited in the ground as some form of offering.

Carolyn Wingfield, Museum Curator, said: "Although bronze was the metal used for tools and weapons in the Bronze Age, gold was also worked and highly prized for status objects and personal adornment.

"After a year closed due to the Covid pandemic, I'm delighted that the museum can celebrate re-opening with such an important local find."

The bracelets were analysed at the British Museum and it was found that the smaller bracelet had a higher gold content than the larger, which contained more silver and copper. This means the bracelets were made separately, although they look similar in design. There were no clues to suggest who buried the bracelets or why.

Two more items of treasure will go on display, thanks to local detectorists who reported their finds through the Treasure Act. A grant from the Gibson Walden Fund helped the museum to acquire a late Roman gold ring set with an amethyst, from Broxted. A small hoard of late Roman silver coins, found in Barnston parish, has also been purchased.

Tony Watson, Chair of Saffron Walden Museum Society, said: "The society and museum are proud to present these splendid prehistoric objects for residents and visitors to see and enjoy.

"Once again, the museum has been very well supported by national and local grant-aiding organisations and the museum society membership in our mission to preserve the heritage of north-west Essex for public benefit."

The Bronze Age gold bracelets, Roman ring and coins will be on display from Thursday 10 June. The museum's opening hours are currently 11am to 4.30pm Thursday to Saturday, and 2.30pm to 4.30pm on Sunday.

Visits can be booked in advance via the museum's website, and admission charges are £2.50 adult and £1.25 concessions. Covid safety measures apply.

7 June 2021