Votive wheel

Photo: North Lincolnshire Museum CC By SA2.0
Object type: Wheel
Period: Iron Age
Primary material: Copper alloy
Date found: 09/05/2023
Location: Pentrefoelas. Conwy


Miniature wheels were used as good luck charms and votive objects in many cultures and date back to the Bronze Age. Hoards have been found with four and eight spoke wheel pendant and the four spokes variety are known from Early Bronze Age Iconography. As a pendant the four poke wheel is first found in Northern Europe in the late Bronze Age as part of the Urnemark Culture 1

Wheel pendants are often found as grave goods and, from the position they are found on the body, it can be inferred they also functioned as neck of cloth ornaments.2

Trundholm Chariot

Trundholm sun chariot.
Photo: National Museum of Denmark CC By SA3.0

One of the most famous example of a object showing wheel symbols is the Trundholm Chariot. It was found in Denmark and has been dated to 1400 BC. It illustrates the connection between the wheel motif and the sun and hence why these wheel pendants are also known as sun wheels.

Celtic mythology

In Celtic mythology Taranis was the god of thunder. He is closely associated with the wheel and is often depicted as a bearded god, with a thunderbolt in one hand and a wheel in the other. He was worshipped in Britain and Ireland as well continental Europe.

Votive wheels, thought to be linked to the cult of Taranis, have been found in their thousands.

Wheels on coinage

The importance of the wheel motif can be seen on the coinage. Below are three readers’ finds with one or more wheel: a Quarter stater of the East Wiltshire tribal group found by Vince Rees, a Gold stater of the Regini and Atrebates found by Chris and a Silver unit of the Regni, Sussex helmet type found by John Ruczynski.


  1. The bronze deposits from Resenlund and Brøndumgård
  2. The wheel and the sun: ‘Glocal’ symbologies of wheel-pendants across Europe. Sara De Angelis and Maja Gori