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The golden ship from Broighter

ref. : en.1110.2014 | 3 January 2014 | by Francis Leveque
modèle | Ier century BC
Irlande ( Irlande )
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The name "Broighter" is the name of a townland in County Derry, near the town of Limavady. It is in this townland where 1896 the Broighter Hoard, a "treasure trove" of celtic gold, was found. The Broighter Hoard (or Broighter Gold) consisted of a model boat, a small bowl, two torcs and a collar embossed with early Celtic decorations.

The boat is astonishing simple in its style, but at the same time contains everything you would expect from such a functional item. It has a mast, a rudder, oars, seats and even a boathook. It is of highest quality, being made of gold, but there are no frills or ornaments to distract from its functionality.

An account of the artefacts found was given by the late E.C.R. Armstrong, F.S.A., and was first published in 1920. The account stated that the find included a model boat with thwarts, a mast, steering oar, grappling iron, three forked instruments, two square-ended, thirteen leaf-shaped oars, a hollow collar with repoussé ornament, a bowl, a solid gold torque, about one half of a similar torque, a necklace made of three plaited chains and another made of a single chain. The two chains were inside the collar, the oars were inside the boat.

The boat is made of a single sheet of gold plate, slit and rejoined at the stern and prow. It measures 7.4 inches (18,4 cm) in length by 3.1 (37,6 cm) in breadth and 1.9 inches high. Originally it contained nine benches for oarsmen, but the first of these is missing. The centre seat, rather broader than the others, is pierced in the centre for the insertion of the mast. Provision is made for rowlocks by movable wire rings attached to the side of the boat. On the left side of the stern is another movable ring to serve as a rowlock for the steering oar. Fifteen oars and the steering oar have been preserved; each oar measures about 2.8 inches.

Ireland is so proud of the work she is inspired to create a commemorative coin in 2002


Bibliography :

  • R. Cochrane, On Broighter, Limavady, Co Derry and on the find of gold ornaments there in 1896, in Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Royal Society of Antiquares of Ireland, Dublin , 1902, vol. 32, p.211-224
  • A.W. Farrell, S. Penny, The Broighter Boat: a reassessment, in Irish Archaeological Research Forum, Belfast , 1975
  • S. McGrail, Prehistoric Boats of Europe: early water travel , 1986, p.34-39