Five days into 2011, a metal detectorist in the Suffolk parish of Wissett discovered 15 Bronze Age palstaves.
© Halesworth and District Museum
Cast in copper alloy across two hoards just nine metres apart, the corroded axes included a fragmented rapier blade, a pegged spearhead and some extensively sharpened blades, coloured in tin greens, browns and unusual silvers and deposited carefully in the soil.
Factors such as the size of the spearheads - dated to between 1150 and 1500BC – made them extremely rare, and a campaign was swiftly launched to raise the £4,300 asking price placed on the finds once they had been evaluated at the British Museum.
Almost two years later, the Save the Hoard campaign has allowed the 3,000-year-old treasures to return home.
“It is most unusual to find two hoards so close together,” says Mike Fordham, the curator at the Halesworth and District Museum where they have gone on show.
“The evidence, from the identical alloy used in both, is that they are both of the same period.
“Evidence of Bronze Age people in this area, away from the easier land around the coast and rivers, has proved hard to find so far.
“This is certainly the most important local find of its kind for decades.”
The fundraising total of £14,000 came largely from donations by local residents, boosted by an Arts Council grant.
It will allow conservators to look after the objects, capture visitors’ imaginations with the display and pursue a story which seems certain to reveal much about the history of the region.
“It has been a magnificent response from local people,” says Brian Howard, the Treasurer and Manager of the campaign who accompanied Fordham to collect the hoards.
“But we still need help to put us in a position to show off this new material to this and future generations.”
Organisers want contributors and volunteers to come forward, with plans including an educational brochure and replica productions to help children understand the hoards in an accompanying educational programme.
- The Wissett Hoards are on display at the Halesworth and District Museum now. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone Brian Howard on 01986 875551 to get involved.