Explore highlights
Three bronze rattle pendants

  • Knife


  • Fragments of skeleton

    Fragments of skeleton


Height: 10.200 cm (min.)
Height: 10.200 cm (min.)

P&EE 1854 7-14 9, 13;P&EE 1883 2-18 4

Room 50: Britain and Europe

    Three bronze rattle pendants

    Bronze Age, 950-750 BC
    From Dowris, Co. Offaly, Ireland

    Rare 'musical' objects of the Bronze Age

    These unusual objects are known as 'crotals' - globular or pear-shaped bells or rattles. They may have been rather heavy for suspension from straps, for example on horse harnesses, and instead may have hung from a rigid support, such as the draught-pole of a wagon. In this way the sound produced while in motion, while not very 'musical', would nevertheless draw attention to and enhance the procession of the wagon. As wagon accessories, crotals join other ornamental bronzes in embellishing wheeled vehicles in this period.

    Crotals were cast hollow by flowing the molten metal around a clay core suspended within the mould. A small perforation was left in one side of each orb to allow the clay core to be scraped out, leaving behind only a small lump of bronze to serve as the rattle. The hole was then blocked with a metal plug. The initial casting also created a free-running ring at the top of each crotal for its suspension.

    These three crotals were part of a large find of bronze metalwork made in Dowris bog in the mid-nineteenth century, which included weapons, tools and elaborate sheet metal vessels.

    G. Eogan, The hoards of the Irish Later (Dublin, University College, 1983)


    Browse or search over 4,000 highlights from the Museum collection

    On display: Room 50: Britain and Europe

    Shop Online

    Fun-filled activity book about mammoths, £3.99

    Fun-filled activity book about mammoths, £3.99