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4 September 2007
Iron Age sword discovered again in Germany

An Iron Age sword which was stolen from a Cambridgeshire (England) museum 13 years ago has been returned after it was spotted at an auction in Germany. The weapon was first unearthed during gravel extraction at Orton Longueville in the 1980s and displayed at Peterborough Museum. The sword, stolen in 1994, and its scabbard were spotted by collectors in Germany and returned to the city.
     Council archaeologists described the sword's recovery as 'miraculous'. Experts at the museum said it had disappeared without trace for 13 years, but a prominent marking which looks like a hand on the sword had helped collectors identify it. "This sword along with two others and several other fascinating items were recovered from an old river bed," Ben Robinson, Peterborough City Council archaeologist, said. "They had been placed in the River Nene as offerings during the Iron Age, more than 2000 years ago. "Some watery places were especially sacred to prehistoric people and valuable items were given to the gods at special locations. The iron sword and its bronze scabbard are especially important - they are among the finest examples known in Britain and have several unique features that have helped experts to confirm their identity."
     Mike Lennox, of Peterborough City Council, said: "We suspect the sword was stolen to order by someone who knew what they were looking for. The collector probably thought he could make a bob or two but would not have realised how specialised the sword is." A temporary exhibition about the sword and its discovery will be set up at Peterborough Museum after security and condition checks have been carried out.

Sources: BBC News, 24dash.com (29 August 2007)

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