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5 October 2016
Pressed flower among Bronze Age finds

Late Bronze Age ritual offerings unearthed at a site in northwest England include weapons, jewellery and ornaments - among them a 3,000-year-old complete pressed flower from a thistle, a plant which has become emblematic of nearby Scotland. The flower appears to have been placed inside the hollow end of an axe handle and buried with other items. Other axe handles in the assemblage had been filled with hazelnuts.
     Additional items found include spearheads, axes, bracelets, arm rings, a chisel, and a pair of ornaments thought to have been part of a horse harness. All the artefacts were ritually submerged in wetlands by the people of a farming community.
     Though the flower is a unique find, comparable discoveries have been made in Ireland and Scotland. Such hoards generally contain one or two different types of objects, but this one has several.
     Doctor Ben Roberts, a lecturer at Durham University and the British Museum's former curator of European Bronze Age collections, explains: "We always think that votive offerings are all about metal. What this highlights is that there would have been other things placed with the metal. It could have been food, clothing ... all sorts of things made of wood that wouldn't have survived. So what we're talking about is certainly a hoard that reflects the interconnections both across the Irish Sea and well into Scotland."
     Earlier this year a significant early Bronze Age burial site had been discovered near Morecambe Bay, 400 kilometres northwest of London. Brendon Wilkins, archaeologist and project director, said that while excavating that site in July, his team was alerted to the new discovery about 11 kilometres away.
     The Morecambe Bay excavation was partly financed through DigVentures, a crowdfunding enterprise founded by Wilkins and two other archaeologists to address severe cuts to research funding.
     A team of archaeologists from DigVentures, Durham University, and the Portable Antiquities Scheme described the votive hoard as "spectacular and significant".

Edited from The Guardian (30 September 2016)

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