Gold Collar, Broighter, Co. Derry

Gold Collar

1st century BC

NMI 1903:232

The most sumptuous Irish Iron Age gold collar was found in a hoard of gold objects close to the ancient shore of Lough Foyle at Broighter, Co. Derry. The large tubular neck ornament has buffer-terminals and is decorated on the ring with raised and incised ornament. Stylised bird and horse motifs are present on the raised ornament which is accentuated by incised concentric arcs on the background. The terminals are fitted with a mortise and tenon device that fastened the collar.

Collars are especially associated with Celtic kings and gods. The sea god Manannán mac Lir was associated with Lough Foyle and may have had special significance for a local king, perhaps as a protective deity or divine ancestor. The placename Broighter is derived from the Irish name Brú Íochtair. In early Irish mythology a brú was a residence of a god while the term íochtair means ‘lower’. The placename may therefore be a reference to the underwater residence of Manannán mac Lir. The presence of a highly stylised horse on the collar would be appropriate as the horse was an animal with special significance for the sea god.

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