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Ancient Gold Studs Recovered From Professor’s Desk

October 22, 2008

Gold studs that were once affixed to the handle of a Bronze Age dagger in the grave of a warrior close to Stonehenge some 4,000 years ago have been found in a desk at Cardiff university.

The studs were unearthed 200 years ago. They were later loaned to Professor Richard Atkinson of Cardiff university in the 1960s. Atkinson was known for his excavations at Silbury Hill and Stonehenge.

The professor placed the studs in an old film canister labeled “Bush Barrow”. After his death in 2005, Niall Sharples, a senior lecturer at the university discovered the gold studs in Atkinson’s desk.

The dagger was made in Brittany and the handle was ornamented with thousands of the tiny gold studs – each one of which is almost small enough to fit through the eye of a needle, according to experts from the Wiltshire Heritage Museum. Each stud was fixed in place using resin or animal glue.

When archaeologists came upon the site where the dagger was found, thousands of the studs became scattered because researchers had no idea what they were.

“The gold studs are remarkable evidence of the skill and craftsmanship of Bronze Age goldsmiths – quite rightly described as ‘the work of the gods,’” said David Dawson, the Wiltshire Heritage Museum’s director.

“We look forward to these studs coming back to the museum, joining those that have been preserved in our collections for 200 years.”

The gold studs will be put on display at the museum in Devizes as part of a special exhibition marking 200 years since the discovery of Britain’s richest Bronze Age burial at Bush Barrow.

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