The Late Bronze Age Blythburgh Hoard is declared a treasure

Hundreds of metalworking fragments have been found along with pieces of pottery

A Late Bronze Age hoard including sword and spear fragments was declared a treasure despite not containing “the stereotypical ‘polished gold’ stuff we usually see on the news”.

The pieces were found by a detectorist in a field at Blythburgh in Suffolk in March 2019 and are over 2000 years old.

Fragments of “metalworking debris” and pieces of pottery were found together.

Liaison Officer Anna Booth said it was of “great archaeological value”.

Ms Booth, from Suffolk County Council, said: ‘The find is interesting because it is quite a large group, contains late to mid-dated Bronze Age material and unlike most Bronze Age hoards of bronze, does not contain axes and spearheads, but rather pieces of swords and chapes [protectors] from sword scabbards.”

In his report to the coroner, Dr Edward Caswell, the Oxfordshire finds officer, said: ‘The items were found in close proximity and are associated, therefore representing a single find which appear to have all been deposited in the Late Bronze Age [Age].

“As such, this represents a collection of more than two base metal (non-precious) objects of prehistoric date and consequently qualifies as hoard under the provisions of the Treasure Act 1996 (Designation Order 2002).”

The hoard, which has not yet been appraised and dates to 1050-800 BC, contains more than 300 fragments of what Dr Caswell described as “metalworking debris”.

Bronze Age treasure laid out on the table

The hundreds of items have been carefully reviewed and catalogued

Ms Booth said: ‘While it doesn’t fit the ‘treasure’ stereotype, it still has great archaeological value.

“Bronze Age treasures are often reported under the Treasure Act and this is helping us develop a much deeper understanding of when, where and why they were deposited.

“For a long time archaeologists thought they were just clumps of scrap metal hidden away for recycling, but we’re starting to see patterns in the ways they’ve been deposited, suggesting there may be deeper, more ritualistic things as well.”

Treasure was “a prime example of how the hottest material isn’t always the ‘shiny gold’ stereotype we typically see on the news,” Booth said.

He said the Halesworth Museum hoped to acquire the treasure to add to its collections.

“It has already acquired a large hoard of Iron Age gold coins from this area and this will be a nice addition to their growing collection of prehistoric material if they are able to proceed with the acquisition,” he said.

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