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4 November 2004
Dunaverney Flesh hook back to Ireland

The Dunaverney Flesh Hook was found in the Garry Bog in the townland of Dunaverney, just north of Ballymoney, Co. Antrim (Northern Ireland), in 1829. Its owners, the British Museum, have lent it to Ulster Museum until May 2005.
     The three decorated cast-bronze tubes were, when found, fixed on a four-foot long wooden pole which was decorated by tiny strips of bronze stuck into it in a herring-bone fashion. Two of the tubes carry models of birds - a pair of ravens on one and a family of swans on the other. The third tube ends in a double hook, which seems to have been the operational part of the object.
     The Dunaverney object was made in about the tenth century BCE (during the late Bronze Age) when, judging by the great cauldrons and buckets that have also been discovered, ritual feasting was important. The favoured explanation of this enigmatic hooked tool is that it was used to remove boiled meat (probably pork) from a cauldron – thus the name ‘flesh-hook’.
     In early Ireland ravens were associated with war, and swans with the other-world. The deposition of the flesh-hook in the extensive Garry Bog (other ritual objects of the same date have been found in this bog) suggests that watery places were believed to be the domain of the gods.

Source: Ulster Museum (27 October 2004)

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