An early Christian crozier embossed in bronze and silver has been discovered in an Offaly bog.

Part of a hooked staff was uncovered by a Bord na Mona turf digging machine and handed over to the National Museum of Ireland. Bord na Mona worker Ciaran Corcoran spotted the crozier as the digger spewed out turf dust.

The two and a half foot piece of the crozier may have belonged to an Irish saint. The bronze silver casing is worn down as if thousands of pilgrims had handled it over a long period.

Dr Joseph Raftery, Directory of the National Museum of Ireland, describes the find as one of the really significant discoveries of the century. The number of croziers of this quality is very limited. The National Museum has five complete ones and portions of about a dozen others.

This is indeed a very welcome addition to this body of important material in the realm of early Christian art in the country.

Dr Raftery says that it is possible that the wooden section of the crozier was owned by someone in the early Christian church who went on to achieve sainthood. However, he says it would be impossible to say which saint.

We have no idea who the holy man would have been to whom this belonged originally.

Dr Raftery also says that we have no idea why or how this crozier was lost in the bog.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 25 August 1977.