Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Cache of Bronze Age Ax Heads Found
From Telegraph.co.uk Treasure hunters find Bronze Age axes Last Updated: 1:58am GMT 23/01/2008 An amateur treasure hunter has unearthed a hoard of bronze age axe heads thought to be worth about £80,000. Tom Peirce started combing a field with his metal detector after dropping off a school coach party at a farm. Within a few minutes it began beeping and he found the first axe head fragment 10in into the soil. When he dug deeper, Mr Peirce found dozens more and, over the following two days, he and a colleague, Les Keith, uncovered nearly 500 bronze artefacts dating back 3,000 years. The find prompted a Time Team-style search of the area at the farm near Swanage, Dorset, by archaeologists. The hoard, which included 268 complete axe heads, is one of the biggest of its kind in Britain. Mr Peirce, of Ringwood, Hants, said: "We are extremely thrilled because this was a once-in-a-lifetime find. It's like winning the lottery - you don't think it is going to happen to you. You do it as a hobby, you don't do it for the money but if you strike it lucky, so be it." It is believed the axe heads were manufactured at a nearby Bronze Age settlement. Archaeologists think the hoard may have been buried as an offering to the gods. Mr Peirce, 60, will have to split any proceeds with the landowner, Alfie O'Connell. Mr O'Connell, 62, who has owned the farm for four years, said: "Within about half an hour of Tom searching, he came rushing over to me looking shocked. During the war a plane crashed in the same field and for a minute I thought he'd found a bomb. "We went back up there on my tractor and saw the axe heads. I didn't have a clue what they were, I thought it was scrap metal at first." The axe heads are 4in long and 2in wide and are being assessed by the British Museum, which may buy them. The coroner for Bournemouth, Poole and East Dorset has been informed of the find and will hold an inquest at which it is expected they will be declared treasure. At that point, landowner and finder receive a reward to the sum of the market value. Dr Andrew Fitzpatrick, of Wessex Archaeology, said: "It is one of the largest and important finds of its kind because of the size of it and the condition they were in."