Bronze Age spear head from Ireland, Europe. Part of the Pitt Rivers Museum Founding Collection. Given to the Museum in 1884.
This large, leaf-shaped bronze spearhead was recovered from a peat bog near Lough Gur in County Limerick, Ireland in 1857. It is a particularly fine example, with beaten and incised gold bands around the ferrule and would have belonged to an individual of high status in the Late Bronze Age. At this time, Ireland was the greatest source and exporter of gold to all of north-west Europe. This, combined with the importance of reflective and brilliant weapons in early Irish myths, explains how the addition of gold made this a more valuable, noble and effective weapon. It is likely the shaft would have been made of yew, a wood favoured by the early Irish for its flexibility and its powerful magical associations.