Museum buys ritually destroyed Bronze Age weapon which was used as doorstop for years

By Ben Miller | 25 November 2014

Impractically large Bronze Age dagger spent years as doorstop before experts identified importance

A photo of a large green, bronze and silver dagger made during the Bronze Age
A Bronze Age dirk which was used as a doorstop for years will go on display in Norwich© Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery
A ceremonial Bronze Age dagger ploughed in a Norfolk field 12 years ago will be revealed to the public after a £41,000 bid to keep the unusually large artefact in curatorial hands succeeded.

A photo of a large curved green, bronze and silver dagged made from Bronze Age metal
The National Heritage Memorial Fund paid £39,000 toward the asking price for the dagger© Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery
Known as the Rudham Dirk, the near-unique dagger was used as a doorstop until it was properly identified last year. Only six examples of its kind – pairs are held in France, the Netherlands and Britain – are known in Europe, with the British Museum’s equivalent also discovered in Norfolk in 1988.

“What makes the Rudham Dirk particularly distinctive is its monumental size,” says Dr Tim Pestell, the Senior Curator of Archaeology at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, who expects the find to point to the beliefs and “contacts” of people during the earliest stages of metalworking industries.

“At approximately 68 centimetres long it is about three times the size of a normal Bronze Age dirk, and so large and heavy it is completely impractical as a weapon.

“With a blunt blade that was never sharpened and no rivet holes for a handle, the Dirk was deliberately designed as a ceremonial weapon.

“This is almost certainly the reason why it was found bent in half, deliberately folded as part of the object’s ritual ‘destruction’ before its burial – a practice well known from Bronze Age metalwork.

“Through its display we hope to bring residents and visitors to Norfolk closer to the remarkable archaeology of our region and stories of our ancient past.”

The county’s Identification and Recording Service recognised the dirk’s “incredible” significance after dating it. The final sale price of £41,000 was agreed between the landowner and the gallery, largely paid for by the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

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You are an idiot who knows nothing about ploughing or bronze age ritual deposition. Dyor.
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