Metal detector user uncovers ‘significant’ Bronze Age artefacts less than 2ft underground

‘I was shaking with happiness,’ says treasure hunter after discovering pre-Christian items 

Jane Dalton
Monday 10 August 2020 14:41 BST
Metal detector user uncovers ‘significant’ Bronze Age artefacts less than 2ft underground

A metal detectorist has discovered a rare hoard of Bronze Age artefacts, which experts describe as “nationally significant”, in the Scottish Borders.

Mariusz Stepien was searching a field near Peebles with friends when he found a bronze object buried half a metre (1ft 8in) underground.

Archaeologists spent 22 days investigating, building a shelter to protect the find from the elements. Mr Stepien and his friends camped out there.

They uncovered a complete horse harness, preserved by the soil, and a sword dated to 1,000 to 900 BC.

The Bronze Age in Britain ran from about 2,000BC to about 650BC.

Mr Stepien said: “I thought ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before’ and felt from the very beginning that this might be something spectacular, and I’ve just discovered a big part of Scottish history.

“I was over the moon, actually shaking with happiness.

“We wanted to be a part of the excavation from the beginning to the end.

“I will never forget those 22 days spent in the field. Every day there were new objects coming out which changed the context of the find, every day we learned something new.

“I’m so pleased that the earth revealed to me something that was hidden for 3,000 years. I still can’t believe it happened.”

All newly discovered ancient objects in Scotland belong to the Crown, and must be reported to the Treasure Trove Unit, which Mr Stepien did.

The archaeologists also found decorated straps, buckles, rings, ornaments and chariot wheel axle caps.

Evidence of a decorative “rattle pendant” from the harness was also discovered — the first one to be found in Scotland and only the third in the UK.

Some of the pre-Christian objects found

The hoard has been taken to the National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh.

Emily Freeman, head of the Treasure Trove Unit, said: “This is a nationally significant find — so few Bronze Age hoards have been excavated in Scotland.

“It was an amazing opportunity for us to not only recover bronze artefacts, but organic material as well.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to assess the artefacts and understand why they were deposited.”

In 1990, a hoard of late Bronze Age items was found at St Andrews in Scotland. As well as at least 200 tools, it included weapons, ornaments, and specimens of plant fibre textiles.

In 2015 a major excavation in Cambridgeshire revealed the remains of a remarkably intact Bronze Age settlement, made up of timber roundhouses raised on stilts above the marshy ground.

Additional reporting by PA

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