This paper deals with a unique glass bead from the second millennium BC in Wessex. Overlooked for more than 150 years, it has now been recognized for its intrinsic interest and general importance and is here presented for its wide significance in ancient Europe and beyond (pls 8 and 9).
In Ancient Wiltshire (1812, 210) Richard Colt Hoare recorded the excavation of a barrow in a group of Bronze Age date at Wilsford: ‘No. 7 is a large bell-shaped barrow’ (now regarded as a bowl barrow) ‘composed entirely of vegetable earth. It contained within a cist a little pile of burned bones with which had been deposited a very fine brass pin, a large stone bead which had been stained red, a bead of ivory and a lance head of brass’. This account is based on the records of William Cunnington (1807, 5–6), which include a transcription of a letter from the original excavator, a Mr Owen. The dimensions of the barrow are there given as 80 ft in diameter, 9 ft high, with a circular cist 18 in deep. The barrow is described as ‘No. 6 of Mr Duke's barrows’; there is thus a discrepancy in the numbering of the barrow, since Colt Hoare referred to it as Lake No. 7, while Cunnington kept to No. 6. The barrow, though recently ploughed, still stands to a height of over 2 m, and is today known as G.42 (Grinsell 1957, 211).