28 Nov 2021

Bronze age dagger found by the River Nore is sold at auction

Kilkenny Kilkenny

This Bronze age dagger found by the River Nore was sold at auction by Sheppard's

A late Bronze Age dagger, which was found beside the River Nore, has been sold at auction.

The dagger was found in 1903 south-west county Laois beside the Annagh bridge over the river Nore, and was located near the road leading from Coolrain to the Pike-of-Rushall.

Auctioneer Philip Sheppard said: "A common ritualistic practice in the later Bronze Age was the deposition of hoards in sacred places including river fords which formed part of the sacred landscape."

At 20 cm. long, the ‘Jack Feehan dagger’ has a leaf-shaped blade with a mid-rib. The evolution of a mid-rib on metal daggers by the end of the Early Bronze Age, served to strengthen them for combat use. Many copper and copper-alloy dagger forms, are known from Europe in the late third to early second millennium BCE. As general purpose tools they would have had many uses including, but not restricted to, fighting.

The earliest daggers in Ireland had quite flat cross-sections and ranged from pieces with blades a few centimetres long to examples with blades over 20 cm, constituting serviceable weapons. 

The Bronze Age denotes the first period in which metal was used with metalwork being one of the defining features of the Age, in Ireland, it lasted from about 2000 - 800 BCE.

Knowledge of how to make bronze, an alloy of tin and copper, came to Ireland from Europe. The copper was mined in Ireland, chiefly in county Kerry, while the tin was imported from Britain.

Irish metalsmiths created large numbers of weapons, perhaps because society became more violent. The commonest object forms produced were swords and spearheads, and daggers to a lesser degree making this new acquisition by the NMI from Sheppard’s auction house all the more significant.

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