“This is a really exciting find”

It may not be as spectacular as the Iron Age gold torcs, or the Anglo-Saxon hoard, but the collection of Bronze Age axe heads, spear tips, and other 3000-year-old metal objects unearthed in an Essex field is equally impressive in its own way.  And they haven’t, yet, revealed what’s in the pot[tery].

“This is a really exciting find,” said local archaeologist Laura McLean.

“To find a hoard still located in its Bronze Age context, below the level of ploughed soil, is very rare. The fact that there is pottery involved makes the find even more unusual.”

The location was reported to archaeologists at Colchester and Ipswich Museums by a landowner from the Burnham-on-Crouch area and Mr J Humphreys, a metal detectorist.

Three other hobbyists then came forward to report more finds in the same area including the top of a pottery vessel.

“This is a really exciting find and a good example of metal detectorists and archaeologists working together to uncover and record our history, making sure it is not lost forever,” says McLean who acts as local Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

And here’s a short video of the excavation from 360 production

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  • joeCanuck

    Yes, axeciting.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Its a long time since I spent any time on a dig. And not sure my knees could take it. Interesting that a metal detector was in use.
    The scourge of historians…usually because too many finds go unrecorded or properly unearthed.
    I should know the law on metal detectors here but I dont. I know the Republic takes a very dim view.

  • USA

    While interesting, I fail to see an Irish connection.

    I think metal detectorists who act responsibly have a lot to contribute, this find being a case in point.

  • joeCanuck

    Blog title has been changed to include stray insights and just plain conversation.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Oh indeed……..at best metal detector guys working in harmony with archaeologists is a fantastic thing.
    But there is too much disharmony between the two…at least thats my experience.
    The Metal Detector guy might well be an amateur historian……indeed a very good one often……OR he might well be a chancer on the make. For every reported “find” there is an indeterminate number of unreported finds.
    I really have no idea as to numbers. Its all anecdotal.

    But certainly some years back in Lough Neagh a viking hoard was discovered and found its way to museums in Scandanavia. I hasten to add it was probably the Tyrone side of the Lough…..allegedly.
    Unreported finds and museums not being very fussy ARE a problem.
    And the situation is not helped by the very superior attitude taken by academic historians to the unprofessional (as they see it) attitude of the metal detector folks.
    There is a typically academic attitude that says the sites or likely sites “belong” to the academic fraternity.
    My experience is not one of co-operation and effectively there is a lot of mutual distrust. And greater mutual respect could benefit all.

    For example less that three months ago I was between Ballinasloe and Loughrea where extensive road works are taking place around the Battle of Aughrim battlefield….”the battle” of the Williamite/Jacobite war.

    For years…centuries even local farmers have been digging up cannonballs, horse furniture, pieces of sword etc from the battlefield. Most went on informal display in local houses, schools etc. And now many feature in the excellent Village Museum/Heritage site. But much has been for generations dispersed.
    Its almost impossible to walk thru the site without picking up a musket ball.
    But the road works was necessarily held up by recent discovery and to the credit of those involved work switched to another part of the site while the history guys did the thing they do.
    Now thats not always the case. Builders etc are not always so fussy. And archaeologists arent always prpared to appreciate the work of road builders etc. And this I think is where the metal detector might prove more useful…………..supervised.
    But the nature of Metal Detector guys is that they dont seem to appreciate oversight.

    But my point is that I really SHOULD know the law in Britain or Ireland (north and south) on metal detection and I dont.

  • FJH, in the North it is illlegal to metal detect on a recorded monument (except, in effect, under a licence for an archaeological excavation from the DoE). In the Republic it is illegal to use a metal detector to look for archaeological objects (again with a licence). The difference is subtle, but it is there (effectively you can use one to look for archaeological objects, with the landowners permission, in the North).
    In Britian there are also slight differences – there is also the Portable Antiquities Scheme by which metal detectorists are encourage to share information (promptly) with museums etc to promote investigation of hoard findspots. Very few of these ever get excavated and so, while there are hundreds of documented hoards from Ireland, only two were found on actual archaeological excavations (Altar wedge tomb in Cork and Killymoon in Tyrone – for more info you could check out http://www.excavations.ie, or for a fuller account of Killymoon here). I worked on the latter for the DoE. More recently when I was based in QUB another LBA hoard was reported quickly and we excavated the findspot at Tamlaght near Navan Fort in Armagh (more info).
    Properly investigated hoard finds are so rare that any that turn up in Britian or Ireland add to the limited corpus of such finds. Very little is known about the actual circumstances in which people placed hoards of objects in the ground, so any data of any kind is good. While metal detectorists do hack out finds and remove much of the potential information that would inform an understanding of the practice, early reporting has helped generate a clearer picture of what went on… (clearer being relative here…).