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He walked into our shop with a bracelet..we told him it was 3,200 yrs old & worth millions; FIND MAY BE A PART OF HORDE.

Byline: MARK SAGE

THE priceless gold necklace found this week on an Irish beach could be part of a horde of treasure worth millions, it was revealed last night.

Archaeologists are now searching the secret site where the jewellery, believed to be 2,200 years old, was found.

The discovery came to light when a man went into Michel Jewellers in Cork clutching the ancient treasure.

The anonymous finder had no idea of the age of the object and wanted shop owner Tim Keane to value it.

Jewellery expert Tim nearly fell over when he realised he had in his hands an object almost as important as the Tara Brooch.

He said: "The man just walked in on Tuesday. He is a good customer and he said he had something to show me.

"He just pulled the bracelet from pocket. It wasn't polished or clean it had been hammered at some stage.

"He produced this piece and asked could we identify what it was. Needless to say I got very excited when I saw it.

"I couldn't believe what I was looking at. I was shocked. It was like finding a unicorn in your back garden.

"The man who found it is extremely respectable. He could have sold it on the black market and made a fortune.

"Instead, he's likely to get a reward from the National Museum of Ireland."

Mr Keane will not disclose who the finder is, but there is a growing belief that the man found the object on the sand in Cork Harbour.

Although the find is being described as priceless, rich collectors would be willing to pay millions to get their hands on the necklace.

Archaeologists from the National Museum are worried the site will be targeted by treasure hunters if it becomes known.

National Museum curator Mary Cahill arrived in Cork yesterday to examine the area where the necklace was discovered.

She said the location of the find is being kept secret until a complete archaeological sweep is made of the site.

She said: "It is very important that the area it was discovered in is not disclosed as archaeologists want to search the site for other objects."

Mr Keane said he knew the artefact, known as a ribbon torc, was 80 per cent gold and very old, but he did not realise how old.

He contacted University College Cork where Professor of Antiquities Peter Woodman examined it.

Prof Woodman estimated it was from the Bronze Age and so around 3,200 years old.

Mr Keane said: "I really do not want to name the man or the location.

"This is for the man's sake, the museum's sake and to stop people with metal detectors from destroying the site.

"The object is a ribbon torc - it is an ancient piece of jewellery and it was made in Ireland in the bronze age.

"It is a twisted gold child's necklace or amulet.

"It's incredible to think this item may have been made 1,200 years before Christ was born."

The torc has been handed to officials at the National Museum who are planning to display it soon as a piece of Ireland's national heritage.

Last night the piece was being held under guard in Dublin.

It came to light yesterday that a second smaller piece of Bronze Age jewellery was discovered by the same man, leading experts to believe the site could house a huge treasure horde. Under Irish law the state is entitled to keep the treasure.

But in most cases the finder is given a reward depending on its value.

After the examination of the torc is complete it will go on display at the National Museum along with other treasures including the Ardagh Chalice.

The torc, like most of the country's national treasures, was discovered by accident.

DO YOU know where the latest treasure was found? Call The Irish Mirror on 01 8688 600.

CAPTION(S):

PRICELESS: Jeweller Tim Keane examines the Bronze Age torc yesterday. It was found by a Cork businessman out for a walk
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Nov 30, 2001
Words:675
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