Stonehenge Sun-Disc from 2,400 BC Jun 20, 2015 21:26:53 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Jun 20, 2015 21:26:53 GMT -5
Stonehenge Sun-Disc from 2,400 BC
Marking this year’s summer solstice, an early Bronze Age sun-disc, one of the earliest metal objects found in Britain, has gone on display for the first time at Wiltshire Museum. Archaeologists believe the disc was forged in around 2400 BC, soon after the great sarsen stones were placed at Stonehenge. It is believed the disc was worn on clothing to represent the sun.
The sun-disc, one of only six such finds, was discovered in a burial mound at Monkton Farleigh, just 20 miles from Stonehenge. It was found during excavations by Guy Underwood in 1947, along with a pottery beaker, flint arrowheads and fragments of the skeleton of an adult male.
Preserved by Dr. Denis Whitehead since its discovery, the sun-disc was seen by the museum's archaeologists the first time when he brought it to the opening of the Prehistory Galleries in 2013. It joins an unparalleled collection of Bronze Age treasures at the Museum dating to the time of Stonehenge and worn by people who worshiped inside the stone circle. Chief among them are the famous golden Bush Barrow treasures discovered in the Normanton Down Barrows less than a mile from Stonehenge. “We have the best Bronze Age collections in Britain and we are delighted to be able to display this incredibly rare sun-disk through the generosity of the donors,” said David Dawson, Museum Director.
The sun-disc is a thin embossed sheet of gold with a cross at the center, surrounded by a circle. Between the lines of both the cross and the circle are fine dots which glint in sunlight. Pierced by two holes, it is believed the disc, which approximately an inch in diameter and not much thicker than aluminum cooking foil, could have been sewn to a piece of clothing or a head-dress.
Until recently it had been presumed that early Bronze Age gold may have come from Ireland, but thanks to new scientific techniques developed at Southampton University, evidence suggests the gold may have originated in Cornwall.
Presented to the museum in memory of Dr. Whitehead, it has now been cleaned by the Wiltshire Council Conservation Service and placed on display in time for this year’s midsummer solstice.
Source: Edward Lowton, Culture 24, June 19, 2015.