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it may safely be inferred that in early times gold found in Ireland was of much easier acquisition than by washing or crushing ore.
It follows that the attractions of gold would have brought colonists from remote countries : colonists who understood the nature and value of the metal, and who so understanding it would have been associated with workers in the precious metals.
The gold would not require smelting like baser metals, but it would be necessary to melt it to form ingots, or portions for easy transit.
transit. Caesar describes the “ taleis”, or metal spikes used in this country for barter or in currency, and adds the word “ferreis”, showing that iron spikes were used by the common people; a certain number formed a drachma,' or handful, so that the size is apparent. This was a form of Greek money, and, as in the precious metals uniformity of weight and size would be essential, the so-called smelting-houses were probably places for furnaces simply to melt and cast the gold to secure equal value by uniformity of size and weight. Gold so prepared, in small bars, would have been safer and easier for conveyance as merchandise.
But this brings the subject to the great roads of approach to “Old Ireland” in pre-Roman times.
There were two great roads : that by the Ic-nield Way, and that by Watling Street, with their tributaries.
These ways used by the Iceni, or rather Ic-eni, long before the advent of Julius Caesar on these shores, were perhaps even then adopted by the Iceni and other trading colonists, as they were subsequently adopted by the Romans, and hence popularly called Roman Roads. They were only Roman by Roman use, as they were probably only Icenic by Icenic use. They ramify far back into the mist of ages. Here literary aid almost fails, but archaeological and analytical scientists supplement it.
Beautiful jewellery has been found by both these roads, and even by some of their offshoots. It will be interesting to trace these works to the dates and the makers to
1 See my Paper in the Journal on “Old London".
which they belong and from whom they issued. The work is of a very high class : so high that it proves the dates to be very remote, and gives evidence of great culture and civilisation at such remote times.
These works must be attributed to one of three origins: Either they were of NATIVE GROWTH, which would imply thousands of years of progressive art to account for such skill and perfection; or they were wrought by foreign settlers in the British Islands; or they were articles imported in traffic and came by commercial barter.
The latter view would bear a primâ fucie probability, but that there are no articles by other national makers sufficiently similar to compare them with. Let us leave them at this point, and perhaps return to it after examining the two other sources.
The first of the three suggested origins would go back to so very early a date that, old as I am convinced art was in the British Islands, I should hesitate to adopt it in face of the more probable hypothesis of foreign colonists, who were gold merchants, and who, if not so skilled themselves, would have in their trains analysts and gold-workers.
That such workers in gold were skilled in the various arts of metallurgy there can be no doubt, and that those arts were perhaps the highest of their day, save only the cutting of gems, seems clear. If so, to arrive at a fair conclusion it is necessary to examine, if not the same style of ornamentation which is difficult from want of examples—at least those approximating to the style and nature of the art.
Recent enquirers have discovered by close investigation a new field for the origin of art, which includes the metal work in question."
As we go back in date from the present time, literature again supports the subject.
Homer describes (Iliad, B. xi, 11. 15-40), a breastplate worn by Agamemnon, on each side of which were three artistic dragons, in colours like rainbows (ipioow łoikótes). Also on his armour a triple-headed dragon of an azure colour. Kvávos is rendered azure, and ranges from skyblue to violet, even including purple, but beyond that the word is not translatable, as the material is unknown. Its deepest blue has mélavos, black, coupled with it. From the rainbow appearance of these decorative dragons there can be little doubt that the material was enamel.
1 See observations by Sir John Evans, on “Spirals”; his son, on “ Excavations in Crete”; Dr. Montelius on “ Ancient Scandinavian Gold Art and Trade”.
Theophrastes compares Kvávos to the sapphire, others to lapis lazuli ; there were light (transparent) and dark
glossy” kinds of the blue.
Near the Bosphorus, Herodotus mentions enormous works of bronze. Close at hand were the Kvavéav, or Cyanean Islands, probably so called from enamel works there. They appear to have been prolific in copper, and so, like Cyprus, would have been sought by enamellers. The whole rocks are green from the presence of copper. The Cyanean Islands were dedicated to Apollo.
This is curious in connection with the dedication of Thorney to Apollo. He was a god who guarded treasure, as succeeding the Python at Delphi, and bore the name of the Python in consequence. Hence the two Orme's Heads, at Llandudno, were doubly significant, and indicate the dedication of that locality to him. The place-names around indicate this. Some are: Abbor-Molech, Saturn's Wood, Saturn's Well, Isis Stone, etc. The capital of the Trinobantes was, like Delphi, an emporium of wealth, which latter contained two-and-a-half millions sterling. Conway was the pass for Irish gold, and seems to have been equally dedicated to the guardian of treasure.
In the shield made by Vulcan at the request of Thetis, Kvávos (Kvavénv) was used, which perhaps led Chapman to the “ 20 colours” in the shield and the “100 hues” of the helmet of Achilles, as it has been likened to the iridescence of the swallow's feathers and those of the kingfisher. The material must have been enamel, with which the Homeric and pre-Homeric ages seem to have been enriched. The arts of Cyprus, of Assyria and Persia mingled, and enamelling was one of them. The designs as to colours found on the British Islands seem
unique, but the process by which they were made appears identical, as the metal was heated in the fire by Vulcan before the colours were produced.—Iliad, B. xviii, 11. 473-5 (see p. 260, infra). The forms, however, are, like the Greek, dragonesque.
Homer states that this grand breastplate was made in Cyprus (Kupros, whence the best copper was obtained), hence probably the base of the enamelled work was bronze.
The amalgam of Achilles's armour, of “an hundred colours”, was made of silver and gold, as well as tin and copper-bronze.
It is in the islands in this part of the Greek waters that recent discoveries indicate a special and very early art of apparently native but high artistic merit, and it is named Mykenaean, as its relations with Mykenae seemed to centre the art there ; and this art certainly included the art of enamelling. I believe I possess the only piece of enamel found at Mykenae. It is azure, like the dragon worn by Agamemnon, and appeared to be a part of a casket to hold the two crystal spheres found in the deepest tomb on the Acropolis of that city, and called by Schliemann the tomb of Agamemnon, from the bottom of which tomb I removed it—it had been overlooked by him. I produced it in Sackville Street with my other finds from excavations in Argolis, etc.
Now the enamelled jewellery found on the great roads through Britain to Ireland is enamel of the most intense colouring and brilliancy, really resembling the “colours” of the “ rainbow”.
Conway is surrounded by places in which relics of these rich gold works of art and beautifully enamelled bronze jewellery have been found. A torque of fine twisted gold was found in 1692, 8 oz. in weight, at Harlech, in Merionethshire. A flexible gold torque weighing upwards of three pounds was found at Pattingham, in Shropshire, the Welsh frontier county. In the museum at Chester are specimens of the magnificent gold breastplate found at Mold, in Flintshire. On Snowdon a quantity of bronze work has been found secreted, and a gold torque at Cader Idris. At Croes Atti, in Flintshire, an elaborately decorated torque, having discs of solid gold, and blue (azure) enamel alternately, together with the raw material for this enamelling (a blue vitreous material described as “glass”), with rings, delicate instruments for high-class art, as engraved in Pennant's Welsh Tour, vol. i. A magnificently designed and richly enamelled fibula was found at Risingham, in Northumberland. This name, as Rising, Risborough, etc., occurs on the Ic-nield Way and in the Icenic country.
Near Newburgh, in Anglesea, a quantity of glass rings, evidently notwithstanding the popular superstition respecting them-being further examples of the raw material for enamelling.
Mr. Pennant also describes the very extensive copper workings in Anglesea, as well as prolific lead and silver
1 See my Paper on “ Researches in Argolis, Phocis, Boeotia, and other parts of Greece”, in the Journal.