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2 December 2011
Bronze Age treasure returns to northern England

A collection of Bronze Age weaponry discovered 270 years ago is returning to Ambleside, in the Lake District (England). Archaeologists are now trying to find out exactly from where it came.
     Thought to be around 5000 years old, the finds will go on show at the Armitt Museum in time for the building's centenary celebrations next March. They have spent most of their life in the Royal Collection, which is loaning them back after 34 years on display in the British Museum.
     The weapons - a sword, sword blade, dagger and spear head - were found in "a kind of bundle, two feet deep in a peat bog" in the Ambleside area in 1741. The discovery was recorded at the time, and the items sketched by a man called Peregrine Bertie. Bertie's account was published in the journal of the Spalding Gentlemen's Society, and then the hoard disappeared. More than 200 years later, the pieces were 're-discovered' at the British Museum by historian Stuart Needham, where they formed a prominent part of the permanent exhibition on the Bronze Age.
     The weapons are thought to be ceremonial and were probably buried in standing water as a votive offering to the gods, as was the custom. The hoard is the only discovery of its kind in southern Lakeland, though there have been Bronze Age finds in northern Cumbria, near the Solway.
     Deborah Walsh, curator of the Armitt, says: "We are looking at various sites around the area to try and establish where they were found. It should be possible to find the site, by working out where people were cutting peat at that time in the 18th century. The hoard is made up of high status items and tells us that there was a very structured society here."

Edited from The Guardian (28 November 2011)

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