A 4,400-year-old sun disc has gone on display for the first time at the Wiltshire Museum today, just in time for Summer Solstice this weekend.

The sun-disc from Monkton Farleigh has gone on permanent display in the museum’s Stone Age exhibition as one of only six finds of sun-discs discovered and is one of the earliest metal objects found in Britain.

The two pence piece sized gold disc was made in about 2,400 BC, soon after the Sarsen stones were put up at Stonehenge, and is thought to represent the sun.

Museum director David Dawson said: “We have the best Bronze Age collections in Britain and we are delighted to be able to display this incredibly rare sun disk through the generosity of the donors.

“It was kept safe since its discovery by Dr Denis Whitehead and the first time that it had been seen by archaeologists was when he brought it to show me at the launch of our new Prehistory Galleries in 2013.

“It has now been presented to the Museum in remembrance of Denis S Whitehead of Inwoods, Farleigh Wick.”

The sun disc was first found in a burial mound at Monkton Farleigh, just over 20 miles from Stonehenge, in 1947 along with a pottery beaker, flint arrowheads and fragments of the skeleton of an adult male.

It was kept safe by the landowner since its discovery and has only now been given to the Museum.

The disk is a thin embossed sheet of gold with a cross at the centre, surrounded by a circle, and between the lines of both the cross and the circle are fine dots which glint in sunlight.

It is pierced by two holes that may have been used to sew the disc to a piece of clothing or a head-dress, and may have been used in pairs.

Until recently it has been thought that early Bronze Age gold may have come from Ireland, but a new scientific technique developed at Southampton University is hinting that the gold may have come from Cornwall.

The Wiltshire Museum is open seven days a week, for admission prices and opening times go to www.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/opening/