Sunday, February 22, 2009
Precious Copper Ingots Found in Devonshire
Treasure trove! Detector found bronze hidden 3,000 years ago Thursday, February 12, 2009, 09:28 PRECIOUS copper fragments stashed away by pre-historic Denbury residents more than 3,000 years ago have been unearthed. Seven copper ingots smelted sometime between 1100BC and 800BC and thought to have been stashed away by blacksmiths for later repairs to tools and axes were discovered in fields ploughed by farmer Kiernan Wellwood. Phil Higginson, 52, from Newton Abbot and fellow members of Torbay Metal Detecting Club Stuart Hunt, from Newton Abbot and David Martin, from Exeter, unearthed the prehistoric hoard in April. Mr Higginson said: "I found a couple of pieces of copper first and one of the other chaps found a similar piece and someone else found another. We did not realise what it was at first, but when we all put our heads together we knew it was copper and probably buried when the pyramids were being built. It was amazing to think the last person to have touched it lived more than 3,000 years ago." The finds were recorded with Devon's archaeological finds liaison officer Danielle Wootton and are now at the British Museum. A treasure trove inquest was held on Tuesday to determine whether the find is valuable and if it can be kept by the finder or has to go to the museum. The pieces are classed as treasure and Exeter Royal Albert Memorial Museum has expressed interest in acquiring the find. The pieces have been analysed by British Museum experts who confirmed that they are late Bronze Age. Ms Wootton told the inquest: "We do not know what they are exactly but we think that because the metal at the time was precious it was buried away from view to be used later for repairs to tools and axes. "We have more and more finds like this in Devon and it could be it forms part of some kind of ritual. The more we learn about the Bronze Age the more we realise how civilised these people were." [Well, duh!] A medieval silver dress hook was also discovered in a Kingsbridge field. Ivybridge metal detector Barry Lang with a South Hams metal detecting club unearthed the early 16th century piece on land owned by farmer Paul Rogers, another treasure trove inquest heard. The piece has been analysed by experts at British Museum. Torbay and South Devon coroner Ian Arrow said both finds should be classed as treasure and should go to museums. It is likely the dress hook will be acquired by Plymouth Museum and art gallery.