Blog

"Find of the Century" - Bob and the Bulla
10 Sep 2021
by Katy Rink

Retired engineer Bob Greenaway tells the story of his amazing Bronze Age discovery, now on display at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery - picture Shaun Fellows/Shine Pix Ltd.

Imagine the excitement of finding this stunning gold pendant in a Shropshire field and discovering it is 3,000 years old.

For retired engineer and metal detectorist Bob Greenaway, from Oswestry, it was the find of his life, and has been described by experts as 'the most significant Bronze Age metalwork find in the last 100 years'. 

Bob is delighted to see the Bronze Age metalwork (whose proper name is a 'bulla') displayed to the public for the first time at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery. 

He describes the moment he uncovered the glint of gold during a detect in the Shropshire Marches in 2018, where he'd struck it lucky a few times previously: "I had been detecting for about an hour when my metal detector started bleeping. I dug around the spot and there, about 8 inches underneath the peat, I found something that took my breath away. 

"It was a beautiful gold pendant. It was gleaming, even though I’d just pulled it from the ground. I picked it up and studied the intricate markings – it was perfect. As I turned it over in my hand, I felt sure that it must be damaged on the other side, but it wasn’t. In fact, it was even more beautiful.

“I quickly put it in my top pocket, ensuring that nothing else was in there, to keep it safe. I knew I’d stumbled across something really special. I just couldn’t carry on with metal detecting – I was too excited. I went to see the farmer who I told about my find.”

It was a good job Bob had changed his mind at the last minute, deciding to go out detecting and turning down an offer to go sailing instead! "I nearly didn't go, but I just felt like I needed to go and have a look," added Bob, who has been detecting for around 25 years. His previous finds have included prehistoric axes and arrow heads - some of which are already on display at Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery. The sun pendant beats them all!

"I'm so pleased that the sun pendant is here at the museum for all to see for the first time in 3,000 years," he says. "It's a legacy which I hope we will continue to learn from."

The pendant will be on show, from Friday, September 10th, until mid December in Shrewsbury. It’s FREE to see it, but people are advised to book a ticket to avoid any disappointment www.shropshiremuseums.org.uk

The bulla will eventually be part of a new British Museum Partnership Gallery dedicated to the pre-Roman past of Shropshire. 

Fay Bailey, Shropshire Council’s manager for Shropshire Museums, added: " The discovery of this exceptional object and associated finds helps to deepen our understanding of Bronze Age Britain and confirms that Shropshire has an important story to tell."

This exhibition promises to be the start of an exciting journey for Shrewsbury Museum & Art Gallery as it joins with the British Museum to develop a new Partnership Gallery. This, the UK’s first pre-Roman British Museum Partnership Gallery, will focus on the national and international significance of Bronze Age Shropshire and is expected to open in 2024."

This beautiful image shows the intricate detailing of Shropshire's Bronze Age sun pendant - Read more about this incredible discovery here

Gold bulla