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27 November 2003
Welsh Bronze Age sun disc declared a treasure

An ancient gold disc which was used as an item of adornment at a burial 4,000 years ago has been discovered in Ceredigion (Wales). Experts say the priceless sun disc is the first one of its kind to be found in the country and only the third known piece of gold from the Bronze Age uncovered here.
     The disc found by chance by an archaeologist digging at Copa Hill at the Cwmystwyth Mines (10 miles outside Aberystwyth) was the subject of a treasure trove inquest heard by Ceredigion coroner. The find, roughly the size of a milk bottle top,  is said to be as significant as the famous Mold cape - thought to have been worn as a garment for religious ceremonies by a great authority - the Bronze Age disc now housed at the British Museum.
     Similar items have been found in Ireland and Europe, but never before in Wales. Adam Gwilt, the museum's curator, said: "Gold sun-discs are one of the very earliest kinds of metal objects ever to have been made and used in Britain and Ireland. The first of its kind from Wales, this fragile sheet disc seems to have been used as an item of adornment on a few special occasions, here upon the death of an individual. It is tempting to see this person as connected in some way with the very early mining on Copa Hill over 4,000 years ago, perhaps one of a group of travelling prospectors or a person of some standing who lived nearby," said Mr Gwilt.
     The sun disc was found by Simon Timberlake, a freelance archaeologist, when he was digging on the site of a Roman and medieval lead smelter in October 2002.  "We were very surprised to find this disc here with an early burial," said Mr Timberlake, a member of the Early Mines Research Group. "In previous years, my excavations at Cwmystwyth have focused upon the copper and lead mine on Copa Hill, one of a number of early Bronze Age mines recently discovered in Wales. However, this discovery was made quite by chance, whilst we were investigating a Roman and medieval lead-smelting site about 500 metres away from the early mine." added Timberlake.
     An inquest in Aberystwyth officially declared the disc to be treasure after hearing expert evidence detailing its archaeological importance. The National Museums & Galleries of Wales will seek to buy the artefact for their collections after it has been assessed by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee.

Sources: Ananova, BBC News Wales, icWales (25 November 2003)

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