Broighter Gold History
In 1896, on the land we still farm today, then owned by Mr Joseph Gibson, two ploughmen (Tom Nicholl and James Morrow), unearthed what has been described as the "greatest gold hoard in Ireland" consisting of necklaces, torcs, a collar and a miniature boat complete with oars and seats. All these items were made of gold in an ornamental style known as "La Tene". Having been discovered, the next question was who could now claim these objects as their own? If it could be proved they had been lost, rather than deliberately concealed, then it was "finders keepers". It became a celebrated court-case which, by 1903, reached the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Some argued that at one time that area had been covered by the sea and the hoard had been deliberately thrown into the water as a votive offering. However others proposed that the sea never reached these fields and so the ornaments were quite likely hidden with the intention of recovery later.
Eventually the court decided that the hoard had been deliberately concealed so was "treasure trove" and therefore belonged to the Crown. The gold was handed over to the National Museum in Dublin where it still resides although there is a replica set in the Ulster Museum Belfast.
"The torc to me is one of the finest pieces of jewellery ever made, and my logo represents the torc and also a drop of our oil."
It had benches, rowlocks, two rows of nine oars and a paddle rudder for steering. It also included tools for grappling, three forks, a yardarm and a spear. The tools are of much lighter design than the ship's hull and are shown in the illustration. The boat suggests that the hoard was a votive deposit to the Celtic sea god Manannán mac Lir.
There are no comparable La Tène style hollow torcs known from Ireland, although somewhat similar examples such as the Snettisham Torc are known from Britain in this period.
Thomas Nicholl, the local ploughman who discovered the Broighter Hoard in 1896, while working for the Gibson Family.