New evidence has emerged pointing towards and ancient gold trading route between Ireland and the UK dating back to the Bronze Age.
Researchers have been studying precious artefacts suggesting that Britain’s Klondike, England’s south-western corner, witnessed its very own gold rush. They used special techniques to measure those artefacts’ chemical composition and discovered that they contained gold stemming from Cornwall.
Expert readings used laser ablation mass spectrometry to analyze gold samples from 50 different Bronze Age artefacts. These artefacts included necklaces, disks, ornaments and plaques (most of which belong to the National Museum of Ireland).
After measuring lead isotopes in the gold fragments, they compared this special make-up with that of gold deposits found all across Ireland. Surprisingly, none of the Irish gold samples came close to the artefacts’ gold composition, which led experts to believe that it must have originated outside the country.
The ancient gold route that scientists are referring to stretched between Cornwall, Devon and Ireland.
Scientists’ findings estimate that approximately 440 pounds of gold were found alongside rivers located in those regions between the 22nd and the eighteenth centuries BC.
According to Chris Standish, study lead author, this is an unexpected development as it points towards materials being imported from outside the country. Bronze Age Irish artefact manufacturers were, it seems, using gold and other materials sourced from Britain despite the fact that the country had rich deposits of gold.
“The available evidence strongly suggests that in Bronze Age Cornwall and west Devon, tin wasn’t obtained through mining, but was instead extracted from the area’s rivers, probably through panning or sluicing system,” Standish said.
Of course, the knowledge of gold extraction existed in Ireland, Dr. Standish explains, especially since previous archaeological evidence points towards a large-scale exploitation of similar materials. Dr. Standish and his team came to the conclusion that there must have been a different reason fueling this Irish desire for foreign materials.
Most likely, the fact that the gold coming from Britain was considered “exotic” is what caused the material to be so cherished in the first place. It’s probably because of this reason that Irish artefact manufacturers decided to use it for production.
Image Source: 100 Objects