After seeing the bronze age Dowris Crotals from about 800 BC, and pondering the debate as to exactly what they are, I was taken by their form and mystery. Besides anything else, I love suspended, kinetic and aural works. I was intrigued, and wondered about the maker of these objects two and a half thousand years ago. In an effort to further understand, I started making a series of my own crotals.
The Crotals/Rattles from Dowris, Co. Offaly formed part of huge Late Bronze Age hoard which was uncovered at Dowris in Co. Offaly during the mid-19th century. Hollow-cast and pear-shaped they typically contain a loose piece of bronze or stone inside, which rattles when the pendants are shook. This may indicate that they represent a rather simple form of musical instrument.
Known as crotals, from the Latin crotalum, meaning rattle, the pendants are generally about 12 cm long and can weigh up to 270 grams. They have a loop at one end, indicating that they were probably suspended, although they appear to have been too heavy for attachment to normal clothing. A uniquely Irish artefact, crotals are not recorded from outside of the island.
Above: Dowris Crotals from about 900-600BC
Dimensions: L: 0.7 meters W: 0.3 meters diameter
Materials: Soda-lime glass, copper and cobalt oxide, bronze.