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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

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The Blessington lunula

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    WG.31

  • Title (object)

    • The Blessington lunula
  • Description

    Gold lunula. Flat sheet crescent of beaten gold with quadrangular terminals. It is decorated with a finely-incised and complex geometric pattern. The horns are decorated with horizontal patterns of horizontal lines, concentric triangles, bands of diamond shaped motifs, triangles touching at their apex filled with horizontal lines, rows of small oblique lines, rows of small triangles a single band of triangle-diamond-triangle shaped motifs filled with intersecting parallel lines and void spaces. The horn’s inner and outer edges are decorated with a border of horizontal lines. Four concentric triangles separate the horns from the rest of the body. The decoration extends down the body in the form of a border parallel with the inner and outer edges. The border consists of a series of parallel lines and rows of triangles.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 2400BC-2000BC (circa)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Diameter: 221 millimetres (outer)
    • Diameter: 135.51 millimetres (inner)
    • Width: 66.54 millimetres (body centre)
    • Width: 39.16 millimetres (horn maximum)
    • Width: 2.05 millimetres (horn minimum)
    • Thickness: 0.15 millimetres (body)
    • Length: 20.19 millimetres (terminal)
    • Width: 15.75 millimetres (terminal)
    • Thickness: 0.4 millimetres (terminal)
    • Weight: 67.2 grammes
  • Bibliography

    • Taylor 1970 bibliographic details
    • Murgia et al 2014 1.4.1.5 bibliographic details
  • Location

    G51/dc9

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    1985 1 Aug-13 Oct, Edinburgh, National Museum of Scotland, Symbols of Power at the Time of Stonehenge

  • Condition

    The lunula shows little sign of damage beyond three small holes and accompanying tears in the body.

  • Conservation

    See treatments 

  • Acquisition name

  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number

    WG.31


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Object reference number: BCB46972

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