Disk from a Reel

Date: ca. 800 B.C.

Culture: Irish

Medium: Gold

Dimensions: Overall: 4 13/16 x 9/16 in. (12.2 x 1.5 cm)

Classification: Metalwork-Gold

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1947

Accession Number: 47.100.14


This disk once formed one side of a large gold spool or bobbin, the exact use of which remains a mystery. Each disk was worked in the repoussé technique in which a complicated pattern of lines, convex cones, and concentric circles was hammered out from the reverse side. Ireland experienced a resurgence in the production of goldwork during the Late Bronze Age. Numerous objects noteworthy for the amount of gold they employ, their innovative forms, and the sophistication of their decoration still survive. Alongside objects of personal ornament such as gold collars and dress fasteners, artisans produced gold rings and boxes that, like the spools, were probably created for purely votive or ritual purposes.