Ancient Roman Treasure
Discovered in Down
By Cliodhna Joyce-Daly, Editorial assistant, and Matthew Skwiat, Contributing Editor
August / September 2015
Brian Murray, a retired civil servant from Newtownards, County Down, found two gold Roman rings and a silver belt buckle using a metal detector on the shores of Murlough in Dundrum Bay in June.
“I was actually collecting militaria on the shores of Murlough,” the 65-year-old told the BBC. “It was an American training area during the Second World War. It’s like fishing for mackerel and catching a salmon.”
The items are an extremely significant find, dating back to the 4th and 5th centuries A.D. It was thought that Roman expeditions never made it that far to Ireland, but these new “treasures” may change current perceptions.
Dr. Greer Ramsay from the National Museum of Northern Ireland told the BBC that “before those rings turned up there was little of that exceptional quality [found in that part of Ireland] so it is putting the north east of Ireland on the Roman map.” He also theorized that the items most likely belonged to the same person, as they were found within four square feet of each other.
“It is possible that it belonged to a burial and someone was buried at sea,” Greer explained. “It is equally possible that somebody was wearing it when their ship went down.”
Further testing will be completed at the British Museum in London where a valuation of the pieces will also take place. Mr. Murray will receive half of the total worth of the pieces, but for him, “It’s not about the money, it’s about the thrill of finding it.” ♦