Archaeologists remain undecided as to precisely what this type of gold ring was used for. The current weight of expert opinion is that they were not used as currency. This is mainly because they are not of any fixed weight or gold content. However, not everyone has completely ruled out the idea that they might have played a role in high status social exchanges. Gold was an extremely valuable commodity during the Bronze Age.

Bronze age gold rings AR.1999.634_635

An idea which has grown in popularity is that they were used as a form of adornment. The suggestion that they are ‘tress-rings’, used to decorate the hair, has been around for many years.

Other theories are based on parallels to similar shaped objects used by various cultures around the world. These range from their being used as earrings, nose rings, lip rings, eyebrow rings and nipple rings. In fact, the collections at Plymouth include earrings made of shell from Papua New Guinea of a very similar shape to Bronze Age examples.

However, while it is tempting to draw parallels, there is no direct evidence to back up any of the various theories. It is also possible that the way they were used changed over time or that they were used differently by different groups of people. As such, for the time being, the intrigue as to what exactly these objects were used for, remains.

The rings are cast of solid gold. They date to around 1000-800 BC, the later part of the Bronze Age.

Found in the South Hams by Mr. Graham Fisher.