Report of General Monthly Meeting - Tuesday 8th October 2019
Gold found at Stonehenge by David Dawson
It was Mark Twain who first gave the words “There’s gold in them thar hills” to his character Mulberry Sellers of The American Claimant. Whilst keen to emphasise that the gold found with a skeleton buried in a round barrow at Stonehenge couldn’t have originated from within the rocks of that well known monument, David Dawson of the Wiltshire Museum nevertheless passed on his enthusiasm about the various ornaments found during an archaeological excavation in Victorian times.
It was difficult for the audience to imagine the infinite patience and skill of the goldsmith over 4,000 years ago who created a wooden dagger handle embedded with an estimated 140,000 tiny gold studs. Without any artificial light and therefore only worked on during sunny and windless days, one person, probably a child with exceptional eyesight and dexterity, managed to create a work of art that today would need a microscope to achieve such a standard of workmanship.
Alas, the dagger handle no longer exists today as it started to decay as soon as it was removed from the tomb. Only a few fragments have survived and these are mounted on a modern replica wooden handle based on sketches made at the time of the discovery. The multitude of gold fragments left over from the decayed handle are stored in a separate bag in the museum at Devizes.
Richard told us of other discoveries at Stonehenge, all of which raised more questions than they answered. Without access to a time machine, the site will probably always remain a mystery.