DOR-2198F8: Early Bronze Age gold lunula

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Unique ID: DOR-2198F8

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

An incomplete gold lunula found in three pieces. A flat crescent shaped sheet of gold of which aproximately three quarters remains. The lunula is torn and bent at the break and there is some damage and denting along the edge and at the widest point. On the larger piece, the surviving expanded terminal is sub-angular with rounded corners and a pronounced mid-rib. It is set at right angles to the plane of the body. The body of the crescent is wide and tapers to the remaining terminal. The central body is undecorated apart a triple stranded framing band along both edges. The lines continue to the apex of the remaining horn of the crescent, increasing to four lines on the inner edge for a short distance (possibly a slip in the engraving). The lines on the inner edge remain equidistant and curve around below the neck of the terminal. The lines around the outer edge start to converge and terminate at the edge.The remaining horn of the crescent is decorated with incised geometric patterns of a type commonly seen on lunulae. At the apex of the horn is an area of fine incised cross-hatching forming an open lattice. The lines here are slightly finer than in other areas of decoration. The cross hatching (x) is bordered by a series of five transverse lines (-), roughly parallel, below which are three downward triangles (v) infilled with transverse lines, a plain area (p) and a group of upward pointing triangles (ᴧ), similarly in-filled. The pattern of spaces and triangles separated by transverse lines is repeated four further times but with variation in the numbers of transverse lines and an increase in the number of triangles. The decoration is as follows:


The variations in triangles and lines are:

x- (5)v(3)pᴧ(3)-(5)v(3)pᴧ(4)-(4)v(4)pᴧ(4)-(3)v(4)pᴧ(4)-(4)v(5).

It is likely that the decoration was repeated on the missing horn.The line thicknesses vary through the decoration. The thickest and deepest are the framing bands, followed by the transverse lines and triangles then the triangle infill. The finest and lightest lines being those comprising lattice pattern at the apex.The lines are not neatly applied with frequent crossing of the transverse lines into other areas of decoration, irregularity in spacing and angle and open apexes to the triangles. The back is undecorated, but on the horn of the crescent the geometric lines on the front have been applied to sufficient depth for them to be faintly visible in low relief.
Dimensions: 142 mm x 180 mm Maximum surviving width - 46.27 mm. Average plate thickness - 0.30 mm . Terminal dimensions - 17.70 mm x 18.10 mm x 1.0 mm (rib thickness)
Weight: 71.63 g

A smaller piece which was found during fieldwork on the findspot is more damaged, but appears to join to the break on the larger piece. It is torn and folded at both ends and along the inner edge. The triple strand decoration at the outer edge is visible, as are the lowest transverse decorative elements mirroring those seen on the horn of the main piece. What remains comprises, from top to bottom, ᴧ(4)-(4)v(4). The dimensions of the smaller piece are:

Dimensions: 43.40 mm x 38.14 mm x 0.52 mm Weight: 9.61 g

A further fragment was unearthed in 2015. It appears to be the missing terminal and fragment of horn. It has the same style expanded terminal, being sub-angular with rounded corners and a pronounced mid-rib. Attached is the tapering horn of the crescent. It is torn, twisted and folded at the end. It is just possible to see traces of the same style of geometric decoration as is visible on the larger, less damaged piece. This item has been given Treasure number 2015 T870.

The dimensions of this piece are: 66.65 mm x 19.26 mm x 0.57 mm Weight: 9.56 g

Date: Early Bronze Age - c. 2400 - 2000 BC
Total Weight: 81.24 g


Lunulae are rare finds for mainland Britain, although they are more common in Ireland, and this is the thirteenth such find. The Dorset findspot is also unusual as most of the previous examples were recovered in coastal or upland locations. This is the third lunula recorded on the PAS database with the two other examples coming from Cumbria (LANCUM-449151) and the East Riding of Yorkshire (DUR-A24C08). This example is of the Provincial type (as defined in Taylor, J. 1980. Bronze Age Goldwork of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press) being narrower, of thicker sheet and less accomplished decoration.

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Dorset County Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2014T257


Broad period: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod from: Early
Period from: BRONZE AGE
Period to: BRONZE AGE
Date from: Circa 2400 BC
Date to: Circa 2000 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 142 mm
Width: 180 mm
Thickness: 0.55 mm
Weight: 71.63 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 29th March 2014

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen
Identified by: Ms Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen

Other reference numbers

Other reference: SCMS 016599
Treasure case number: 2014T257

Materials and construction

Primary material: Gold
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Dorset (County)
District: North Dorset (District)
To be known as: Tarrant Valley

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (From FLO)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: Dorset County Museum
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Minimal cultivation

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: DOR
Created: Thursday 1st May 2014
Updated: Monday 8th February 2016

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