Stonehenge period gold on display at Wiltshire Heritage Museum

Wiltshire Museum exhibition
Image caption The new £750,000 exhibition has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and Wiltshire Council

A collection of gold objects from the time of Stonehenge has gone on display for the first time in Wiltshire.

A ceremonial axe, dagger and jewellery are among 500 Early Bronze Age objects on show at Wiltshire Heritage Museum.

It is hoped the £750,000 exhibition will attract "substantial numbers" of visitors from nearby Stonehenge.

David Dawson, from the museum, said: "Many of the items may well have been worn by priests and chieftains as they worshipped inside Stonehenge itself."

The exhibition in Devizes has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, English Heritage and Wiltshire Council.

'Remarkable prehistoric people'

It houses a collection of 30 pieces of Early Bronze Age gold - the largest ever to be put on public display in England, according to the museum.

"We've got lots of gold objects that are on display for the first time ever because we've never had the security and environmental conditions we need to display them properly," said Mr Dawson.

"And most of the pieces were discovered within a half mile radius of Stonehenge."

Unearthed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the rarely seen collection includes "high status objects" from the burials of people who used the ancient site.

Also on display are axes and daggers which, according to Mr Dawson, are "identical to images of weapons carved into the stones" of Stonehenge.

"The objects tell the story of the people who lived in and around the Stonehenge landscape when the monument was one of the great religious focal points of western Europe," he said.

"We believe it's a major step forward in helping to explain the extraordinary sophistication of the remarkable people who used the prehistoric monument."

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