Is it a hand grenade?
One of the most unusual objects on display is often mistaken for a hand grenade. It is in fact not a weapon but possibly a musical percussion instrument.
Known as a 'crotal', most of these objects were all found in one hoard from Dowris in Co Offaly (dating to around 800BC). This rare example is from Co Antrim. The word 'crotal' comes from a Greek word which indicates that they make a rattling sound when shaken, probably from a bit of metal or stone trapped internally.
Crotals were found along with curved musical horns in the Dowris hoard, which many believe are designed to mimic the horns of a bull. It is possible that shape of the crotal was influenced by another part of the bull's anatomy which we can leave to the imagination! This may suggests that the idea of the crotal being intentionally manufactured as an instrument is not correct but that they were a ritual object perhaps to reflect the power and potency of the bull.
A pair of these magnificent Bronze Age horns is on display in the Ulster Museum, found in a bog at Drumbest in Co Antrim.
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