Three axes were buried in a field in Wales in an Early Bronze Age ritual gift to the gods

By Culture24 Reporter | 22 July 2016

A medieval ring, a 13th or 14th century brooch frame and a 16th century pin have also been declared treasure

A photo of Bronze Age axeheads found in Wales
© National Museum Wales
Back in the Arreton phase of the Early Bronze Age, around 3,500 years ago, someone buried three axes in a field in Monmouthshire.

Now they’ve been declared treasure, with archaeologists saying all three were probably dumped as a single hoard in one pit, although one of them has been disturbed and moved since the burial.

The theory is that these complete and prized bronzes were buried in a ritual ceremony – possibly as a gift to the gods. Similar hoards have been found across Britain and Europe.

A photo of Bronze Age axeheads found in Wales
© National Museum Wales
“One of the axes is more technologically advanced than the other two, with a defined stop across the middle of the axe,” says Adam Gwilt, the Principal Curator of Prehistory at National Museum Wales.

“This would have improved the way a wooden handle or haft was secured to the blade, so it could be used as a wood-cutting and working tool.
 
“These axes provide important new information about the development and use of bronze tools in south-east Wales towards the end of the Early Bronze Age.”

Originally reported to the National Roman Legion Museum at Caerleon, the axes join a series of newly-declared treasures in Wales.

A silver gilt pin

A photo of Bronze Age axeheads found in Wales
© National Museum Wales
This was found by a Mr Booth at Mitchell Troy in 2013. Its spherical head is decorated with twisted wire forming six circlets on each hemisphere.

This type of pin is now generally recognised as being of 16th century date. Similar finds have been made around Wales, building up a picture of Tudor fashion circulating in Wales. Abergavenny Museum is keen to acquire this one.

A fragment of silver gilt finger ring

A photo of Bronze Age axeheads found in Wales
© National Museum Wales
Russell Peach discovered this in Caerwent. The form of the ring is 13th or 14th century. National Museum Wales are keen to buy the ring.

A silver medieval brooch frame

A photo of Bronze Age axeheads found in Wales
© National Museum Wales
Delwyn James Samuel found this in Monmouthshire. One face is decorated with a herringbone pattern; the other has parallel transverse lines for half of the circumference, and a crude zig-zag for the remainder.

There are traces of black niello within the incised lines. This form of decoration is typical of the 13th and 14th centuries. Abergavenny Museum hopes to secure this brooch.
 
The treasures are certain to be bought for museums in Wales with grant funding provided by the Saving Treasures; Telling Stories project, funded via the Collecting Cultures stream of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Three places to discover archaeology in Wales

Amgueddfa Pontypool Museum
The museum collects artefacts from the history, archaeology, geology, social and industrial histories and art, craft and ecology of the Torfaen Valley, which is the Eastern most valley of south Wales including the towns of Blaenafon, Pontypool and Cwmbran.

Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery, Powys
First established in 1928 by the Brecknock Society, this museum occupies an historic building at the heart of an outstandingly attractive area with a rich and varied past.

Caldicot Castle Country Park
The castle was developed as a fortress by Royal hands in the Middle Ages and restored as a Victorian family home.The river Nedern winds its way through the park and the wildlife pond is home to a variety of wildfowl.
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