Prehistoric Pendant Discovered In Drumcliffe

Prehistoric Pendant Discovered In Drumcliffe Councillor Dónal Gilroy, Leas Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council, Darragh McDaniel, Dr. Nessa O'Connor Assistant Keeper Irish Antiquities Division of the National Museum of Ireland

In March 2020, 15-year-old Darragh McDaniel was helping his father Anthony McDaniel dig a drain in a field in Drumcliffe, Co. Sligo when he spotted an unusual stone.

Darragh said  

the stone had a hole in one end, and it was noticeably lightweight and red in colour.  

Unsure as to what the object might be, he brought it to local Archaeologist Tamlyn McHugh for identification.  On recognising the importance of the object, Tamlyn alerted the National Museum of Ireland to the discovery.

“It’s not every-day that you are presented with such a marvellous find!  The object is quite small, and it could easily have been missed were it not for Darragh spotting it”  

Tamlyn said.

The stone pendant is thought to be a prehistoric miniature stone tool which was worn around the neck and used to smoothen the surface of other objects like polished stone axes.  An alternative interpretation is that the pendant was a Bronze Age archer’s stone wrist bracer that at some point broke and was subsequently repurposed or reshaped into a pendant.  Bracers were worn on the inside of the wrist to protect an archer when releasing the arrow.  Examples have been discovered with high profile prehistoric burials in Britain including the Amesbury archer.  Further research will be conducted by the experts in the National Museum of Ireland to determine the origin of the stone material, the date, and the function of the object.

Darragh McDaniel_Pendant Darragh McDaniel holding the pendant
Drumcliffe Pendant Drumcliffe Pendant (courtesy of Fadó Archaeology)

Following the lifting of restrictions on travel Dr. Nessa O’Connor, Archaeologist and Assistant Keeper of Irish Antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland, visited Sligo to meet with Darragh and his family, to thank him for the discovery and to bring the object into the care of the National Museum in Kildare Street, Dublin.

Speaking in Drumcliffe, during the presentation of the pendant to the National Museum of Ireland, Councillor Dónal Gilroy, Leas Cathaoirleach of Sligo County Council and Chair of Sligo Heritage Forum, congratulated Darragh on his discovery,

“I am delighted to see an example of how young people have a keen eye and interest in our heritage. Our future and our past are in safe hands”.

Nessa O’Connor also congratulated Darragh and thanked all those involved in the discovery and reporting of the pendant

“The National Museum of Ireland of Ireland was delighted to hear of Darragh’s fascinating and unusual find. I was really pleased to have a chance to meet Darragh and his family on Tuesday last and to see where the stone pendant was found.  This is a great example of good citizenship and the way in which a single small find can add to what is known about the archaeology and settlement of one locality in prehistoric times. Darragh did very well and was so observant to spot this tiny artefact in the disturbed soil!  We would also like to thank Tamlyn McHugh who was instrumental in passing on news of the discovery from the McDaniel family to the National Museum”.

The discovery of the stone pendant in Drumcliffe Co. Sligo has been one of the highlights of the Sligo Community Archaeology Project which has been underway since May 2020.  The ‘Sligo Community Archaeology Project’ is a key action of Sligo Heritage Forum for 2020.  It is an action of the County Sligo Heritage Plan 2016 – 2020 and is funded by Sligo County Council in partnership with The Heritage Council.  The project is being delivered by Tamlyn McHugh of Fadó Archaeology.  This project has received funding from the Heritage Council in 2020.

The project seeks to increase awareness and appreciation of the archaeology of Sligo by providing a platform for public engagement with archaeology through seminars, field trips, workshops, and social media posts on the popular Facebook page ‘Sligo Community Archaeology Project’. This has resulted in the discovery of new archaeological sites and artefacts in the county.

The National Museum would ask that anyone who by chance comes across an object that they think may be of archaeological or historical interest, please report it to the National Museum of Ireland by email to antiquitiesdo@museum.ie or ph. 01:6777444.

Nessa O’Connor emphasised the importance of reporting objects

“this could be your contribution to your own local heritage and help ensure that objects and related information on their context in the landscape can be available to all as a source of new archaeological knowledge and as a research resource. Darragh has had a special role in that regard for his own place in Co Sligo.”

Community groups and individuals interested in their local archaeological monuments are encouraged to contact Tamlyn McHugh, Sligo Community Archaeology Project at 0868706529 or by email to info@fadoarchaeology.com.