3,000-year-old sun pendant found in Shropshire to go on display

A sun pendant which is more than 3,000 years old is to be displayed in public for the first time three years after it was found in Shropshire.

The sun pendant was found at a secret location in Shropshire. It will be displayed at Shrewsbury Museum from September.
The sun pendant was found at a secret location in Shropshire. It will be displayed at Shrewsbury Museum from September.

The gold pendant, also known as a bulla, could be one of the most significant pieces of Bronze Age metalwork ever discovered in Britain.

It is so rare that the site at which it was discovered by an anonymous metal detectorist in 2018 has been kept a secret and simply referred to as the Shropshire Marches.

It will be hosted at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery from September until December as a British Museum Spotlight Loan.

The museum is hoping to acquire other archaeologically significant Bronze Age objects found at the same spot and is launching a crowdfunding campaign to display them.

The pendant, dating between 1000–800BC in the late Bronze Age period, includes an exceptionally rare depiction of the sun – not previously seen on objects found in Britain.

Measuring 3.5 centimetres high and 4.7 centimetres wide, it is believe to have been deposited intentionally in a wetland landscape of bogs and ponds 3,000 years ago and is one of two bulla ever found in Britain.

The other was discovered near Manchester in 1722 but has since been lost and is only known from a picture.

Other historically significant objects unearthed at the same site include an exceptionally rare jewellery parcel wrapped by lead, believed to be one of the first records of using this material, and hoards which have the potential to date the transition between Bronze and Iron Ages.

Shrewsbury Museum now needs to raise £40,000 as the reward of the treasure objects.

Museum manager Fay Bailey said: "This vast array of high-quality metalwork from this landscape suggests that the Shropshire site was an important location for a form of religious or ceremonial activity for over a thousand years.

"These objects and ongoing fieldwork at the findspot reveal important discoveries about this period in British prehistory, advancing our collective archaeological knowledge and understanding of why precious objects would be cast away.

"Displaying these important objects in situ together for the first time at Shrewsbury Museum would be a unique opportunity for visitors to learn about this historic site."

The other objects include to gold lock rings, probably worn as jewellery in hair or clothing.

"The lead sheet acted to wrap and conceal the rings in place, though damaging them in the act, and could also have helped ‘sink’ the light lock-rings when they were deposited in a wet and watery location with limited prospect of recovery.

"The lead itself may also be considered a significant sacrifice given the importance of lead in both gold and bronze working.

“The Shropshire sun pendant is an unparalleled find of international significance. The discovery of this exceptional object and associated finds helps to deepen our understanding of Bronze Age Britain and confirms that Shropshire has an important story to tell. We are delighted to be the first venue to display this remarkable object.”

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