A history of Ireland in 100 objects: Salamander pendant, circa 1588

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This incongruously elegant jewelled pendant was recovered from the wreck site of the Spanish galleass ‘Girona’, which sank off Lacada Point, on the north Antrim coast, in the autumn of 1588.

‘Girona’ was part of the largest invasion fleet yet assembled, the great armada of 130 ships that set sail from Lisbon on May 30th, 1588. Its aim, as part of Philip II’s crusade against Protestant “heretics”, was to take control of England, depose Elizabeth I and re-establish a Catholic monarchy. (Philip had been married to Elizabeth’s sister and predecessor, Mary.) Spain and England were already fighting a proxy war in the Low Countries; Philip was now intent on a comprehensive victory.

On board the ships was a vast store of ordnance, including the massive siege guns intended to batter down the walls of London....

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