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12 November 2006
Axe heads finder looks set for a windfall

Metal detective Stephen Barrass could be in line for a windfall after discovering two Bronze Age axe heads in a field near his home. Mr Barrass, a 41-year-old factory worker, had been metal detecting for three years with hardly any success, until he found the 3,000-year-old artefacts - believed to have been a religious offering - just 10 inches below the surface of a field at Castleside (County Durham, England). At an inquest in Chester-le-Street  North Durham coroner Andrew Tweddle formally declared the findings to be treasure. They are currently waiting to be valued at the British Museum.
Whatever experts declare to be their value will then be divided as a 'reward' between Mr Barrass and the owner of the land.
     Mr Tweddle said he was not prepared to reveal at the hearing the exact location of the find, "because we don't want coachloads of metal detectives descending upon it". Rob Collins, from the Museum of Antiquities at Newcastle University, and finds liaison officer for the North-East, said the likely final resting place for the axe heads would be Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle, County Durham. He said: "The axe heads will be valued by the British Museum valuation committee which meets every three months, and the value, or reward, will be divided between the finder and the landowner. "We think they would have been some sort of religious offering, or votif, to the gods." Mr Barrass, who made the discovery in May, said: "I am thrilled to have discovered something historically valuable. It is nothing to do with the financial value. My father died recently and I only wish he could have been here today, he would have been proud. He was thrilled by the discovery."

Sources: The Journal (10 November 2006)

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