| 2 February 2008
260 Bronze Age axe heads unearthed in England
Three amateur treasure hunters from Ringwood (Hampshire, England) have unearthed a great number of Bronze Age axe heads in what is one of the largest finds of its kind in Britain. Les Keith, Tom Peirce and Bryan Thomas discovered 260 complete axe heads at four hot spots on pastureland at Puttlake Adventure Farm in Langton Matravers. An exact value has yet to be put on the historic find, which also included 152 incomplete axe heads, but is expected to be in the region of £40,000.
Coach driver Mr Peirce discovered the location after taking a school party to the farm, returning later with his life-long friend Mr Keith when the pair found the first axe head fragment buried 10in under the soil. Mr Peirce, Mr Keith and third friend Mr Thomas returned the following day and unearthed hundreds more 3,000 year-old axe heads. The find prompted a search of the area at the farm near Swanage, Dorset, by archaeologists.
It is believed the axe heads were manufactured at a nearby Bronze Age settlement. As the find is classed as treasure trove the proceeds will be split between landowner Alfie O'Connell and the finders. The 4in by 2in axe heads are being assessed by the British Museum, which may buy them.
In a find such as this an inquest must be held. The coroner for Bournemouth, Poole and East Dorset has been informed of the situation and is expected to declare the find as treasure. At that point, landowner and finder receive their market value. Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, of Wessex Archaeology, said: "It is one of the largest and important finds of its kind because of its size and the condition they were in." He added: "The artefacts could have been used as a form of currency and buried at a time of crisis but many people believe they were buried as an offering to the gods. A lot of Bronze Age objects like this were buried in the ground and it is a bit of a coincidence that many people didnít go back for them."
Sources: Times Online (22 January 2008), Zee News (26 January 2008), This is Wiltshire (1 February 2008)
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