Detectorist Finds Bronze Age Treasure Cache With Sword In Scotland

Detectorist Finds Bronze Age Treasure Cache With Sword In Scotland

In fiction, treasure hunters cut through dense jungles, dive down to dangerous shipwrecks, and search the Holy Land looking for buried artifacts with high market value in an industry fueled by rare antiquities. But in the real world, on June 21, 2020, an amateur metal detectorist uncovered an exceptionally rare Bronze Age treasure hoard in a field near the village of Peebles, about 22 miles (36 kilometers) south of Edinburgh. The prize of this Bronze Age treasure cache was a rare and priceless 3,000-year-old sword. While the sword was not jewel encrusted , it will provide gems of archaeological data pertaining to a time in Scottish history from which only a few artifacts have ever been recovered.

What the Bronze Age treasure hoard looked like when it was first found in the ground. #7 in the center is the sword with scabbard. ( SketchFab)

Bronze Age Treasure Finder Reported and Guarded the Find

A PHYS article about the metal detectorist Mariusz Stepien, 44, says he “shook” with happiness when he realized his find might be something “spectacular,” and potentially “a big part of Scottish history .” And following UK law to the letter, Stepien and his friends immediately contacted the Scottish government's Treasure Trove who sent a team of archaeologists to the site.

But there was no way Mr Stepien was taking his eyes off the loot and he set up a camp site and slept rough in the treasure field for 22 nights while archaeologists excavated the Bronze Age treasure hoard which included “a horse harness, buckles, rings, ornaments, a sword still in its scabbard and axle caps from a chariot.” These finds are now being studied in Edinburgh at the National Museums Collection Center .

Key items from the Bronze Age treasure find in Scotland, thought to be pieces of a Bronze Age horse harness, found by amateur metal detectorist, Mariusz Stepien in June 2020. Source: Treasure Trove Scotland

Scottish Bronze Age Treasure: A Nationally Significant Find

In a Southern Reporter article Mr Stepien said he will never forget those 22 days spent in the field where every day “there were new objects coming out which changed the context of the find,” and he expressed how delighted he was to have helped unearth artifacts dating more than 3,000 years old. The archaeologists recovered decorated straps, buckles, rings, ornaments and chariot wheel axle caps, along with evidence of a decorative rattle pendant, but the jewel in the crown of this hoard was a sword still in its scabbard. This exceptionally rare sword represents “the first” of its type ever discovered in Scotland, and only the third found anywhere in the UK to date.

Because the soil had preserved the organic elements of the hoard the archaeologists were able to trace the leather straps that once connected the Bronze rings, discs and buckles together to form a horse’s harness. Emily Freeman, the head of the Scottish Treasure Trove unit, said that because so few Bronze Age treasure hoards have been excavated in Scotland it was an amazing opportunity for her team not only to recover bronze artifacts, but to study rare organic material as well. She described the collection as “a nationally significant find.”

And this sentiment was supported by the Queen ’s and Lord Treasurer ’s remembrancer David Harvie who said the Bronze Age treasure hoard is “highly significant and promises to give us a new insight into Scotland ’s history” and he thanked the finder for his quick actions in contacting the treasure trove unit.

An Early Bronze Age flat axe head found not far from where the recent treasure trove was found in Peeblesshire, Scotland ( Treasure Trove Scotland )

Peebles County: A Known Bronze Age Treasure Chest

Peeblesshire, the County of Peebles, or Tweeddale, is a historic county in southern Scotland bordering Midlothian to the north, Selkirkshire to the east, Dumfriesshire to the south, and Lanarkshire to the west. The only comparable collection of Late Bronze Age objects ever discovered in Scotland was also discovered in Peebleshire in 1864 by Mr Linton of Glenrath beneath a large field stone among the scree of Horsehope Craiin in Manor parish.

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Known as the Horse Hope Craig Hoard the bulk of this collection of Bronze Age treasures has been kept preserved in the Museum of the Chambers Institute in Peebles since its discovery and includes twenty eight pieces, with one of two “socketed axes” on exhibition at the National Museum of Antiquities of Scotland . Dated to the 7th and 6th centuries BC, as is the newly discovered treasure hoard, the Horse Hope Craig Hoard included classic bronze elements like horse-harnesses and mountings from a cart.


Metal detectorist unearths a Bronze Age sword and horse harness in the Scottish borders

Mariusz Stepien was searching a field near Peebles when he found a Bronze Age hoard described as "nationally significant".

A metal detectorist has discovered a hoard of Bronze Age artefacts in the Scottish Borders which experts have described as "nationally significant".

Mariusz Stepien, 44, was searching a field near Peebles with friends on June 21 when he found a bronze object buried half a metre underground.

The group camped in the field and built a shelter to protect the find from the elements while archaeologists spent 22 days investigating.

Among the items found were a complete horse harness - preserved by the soil - and a sword which have been dated as being from 1000 to 900 BC.

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 more than 3000 years. I still can't believe it happened."

As he was getting strong signals from the earth around the initial object, Mr Stepien contacted the Treasure Trove Unit to report his find.

They 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.

The hoard has been moved from the site in a large block of soil and taken to the National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh.

Emily Freeman, head of the Treasure Trove Unit overseeing the recovery and assessment of the find, 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.

"We could not have achieved this without the responsible actions of the finder or the support of the landowners.

"The finder was quick to action when they realised that they had found an in-situ hoard, which resulted in the Treasure Trove Unit and National Museums Scotland being on site within days of discovery."


Swedish orienteering enthusiast finds Bronze Age treasure trove

Some of the bronze Age treasures discovered near Alingsas

A Swedish orienteering enthusiast working on a map earlier in April stumbled across a stash of some 50 Bronze Age relics dating back over 2,500 years, authorities said Thursday.

Mainly consisting of ancient jewelry, the find outside the small town of Alingsas in western Sweden represents one of "the most spectacular and largest cache finds" from the Bronze Age ever in the Nordic country, the County Administrative Board said in a statement.

Among the relics, believed to be from the period between 750 and 500 BC, are some "very well preserved necklaces, chains and needles" made out of bronze.

The objects were lying out in the open in front of some boulders out in the forest.

"Presumably animals have dug them out of a crevice between the boulders, where you can assume that they had been lying before," the government agency said.

Tomas Karlsson, the cartographer who made the discovery when he was out updating a map, at first thought it was just junk.

"It looked like metal garbage. Is that a lamp lying here, I thought at first," Karlsson told the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

He told the paper he then hunched over and saw a spiral and a necklace.

"But it all looked so new. I thought they were fake," he continued.

He reported the find to local authorities who sent out a team of archaeologists to examine the site.

"Most of the finds are made up of bronze items that can be associated with a women of high status from the Bronze Age," Johan Ling, professor of archeology at the University of Gothenburg, said in the statement.

"They have been used to adorn different body parts, such as necklaces, bracelets and ankle bracelets, but there were also large needles and eyelets used to decorate and hold up different pieces of clothing, probably made of wool," Ling added.


Metal detectorist in Scotland finds haul of Bronze Age artefacts in 'significant' discovery

Some of the items found in the Borders date back as far back as 1000 to 900BC.

A metal detectorist has stumbled across a treasure trove of Bronze Age artefacts in Scotland, with experts branding the incredible find as ‘nationally significant’.

Mariusz Stepien had been hunting around a field in Peebles, in the Scottish Borders, in June with some pals when he came across a bronze object beneath the earth, reports Wales Online.

The 44-year-old and the group built shelter around to the find to protect it from the elements.

Archaeologists set out on extensive investigations of the site for the following 22 days.

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Experts were able to find a range of different items, with some dating as far back at 1000BC to 900BC.

A complete horse harness - preserved by the soil - and a sword were among the historic discoveries.

Mariusz 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.

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“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 more than 3000 years. I still can’t believe it happened.”

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Decorated straps, buckles, rings, ornaments and chariot wheel axle caps were also discovered.

The collection of artefacts has been moved from the site in a large block of soil and taken to the National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh.

Emily Freeman, head of the Treasure Trove Unit overseeing the recovery and assessment of the find, 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.

“We could not have achieved this without the responsible actions of the finder or the support of the landowners.

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“The finder was quick to action when they realised that they had found an in-situ hoard, which resulted in the Treasure Trove Unit and National Museums Scotland being on site within days of discovery.”


Metal detectorist unearths 'nationally significant' Bronze Age hoard in Scotland

A “nationally significant” hoard of Bronze Age artefacts have been found by a metal detectorist.

Mariusz Stepien, 44, came across a bronze object buried about half a metre underground in June and protected it from the elements while archaeologists spent 22 days investigating the area.

They found a complete horse harness, preserved by soil, and a sword dated to between 1000 and 900 BC in the field, near Peebles in the Scottish Borders.

Decorated straps, buckles, rings, ornaments and chariot wheel axle caps were among the items, as was a “rattle pendant” from the harness.

It is the first such pendant to be found in Scotland and only the third in the UK.

Emily Freeman, head of the Treasure Trove Unit, which oversaw the recovery of the artefacts, 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.”

Stepien contacted the unit after he found the items, and the trove has been moved from the site in a large block of soil and taken to the National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh.

He 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 more than 3,000 years. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Freeman added: “We could not have achieved this without the responsible actions of the finder or the support of the landowners.

“The finder was quick to action when they realised that they had found an in-situ hoard, which resulted in the Treasure Trove Unit and National Museums Scotland being on site within days of discovery.”

Treasure hunting has risen in popularity in recent years, a shift some put down to the success of shows such as BBC comedy The Detectorists, starring Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones.

More significant treasure discoveries in Britain

The Staffordshire Hoard

This is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever to be discovered, the trove’s own website states.

It is made up of fine objects that required a “very high level of craft skills” to make, the site says.

The hoard’s items would have belonged to Anglo-Saxon kings and princes, their households and warrior retinues.

Religious and animal artefacts, weapon parts and decorative items are among the almost 4,600 individual items and fragments discovered.

They were found near Hammerwich, a village near Lichfield in Staffordshire, in July 2009 by detectorist Terry Herbert.

The amount contains a combined 4g of gold, more than 1.5kg kilos of silver and thousands of garnets.

“There is nothing comparable in terms of content and quantity in the UK or Europe,” the website adds.

The Vale of York Hoard

Valued at £1m, this was found by David and Andrew Whelan, two metal detectorists, in North Yorkshire in 2007.

The Yorkshire Museum describes the find as “remarkable” due to its size and quality, “making it the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years”.

The Viking Age treasure contains 67 objects including ornaments, ingots and fragments called hack silver, as well as 617 coins.

Some of the objects come from as far as Afghanistan, as well as Europe.

Among the items is a silver coin, a dirham that was struck at Samarkand in what is now Uzbekistan, a city that sat on the Silk Road trading route.

The coin was traded up the rivers into Russia, then Scandinavia, until it made its way to Yorkshire, the museum added.

The Hoxne Hoard

The Hoxne Hoard is the richest Roman treasure find in Britain, according to the British Museum.

Several precious objects were found in Suffolk in 1992, alongside about 15,000 coins.

It was found by Eric Lawes, reportedly after he went looking for a lost hammer.

Among its treasures is a silver pepper pot that depicts a woman and dates to between 300 and 400 AD.


Metal detectorist unearths 'nationally significant' Bronze Age hoard in Scotland

A “nationally significant” hoard of Bronze Age artefacts have been found by a metal detectorist.

Mariusz Stepien, 44, came across a bronze object buried about half a metre underground in June and protected it from the elements while archaeologists spent 22 days investigating the area.

They found a complete horse harness, preserved by soil, and a sword dated to between 1000 and 900 BC in the field, near Peebles in the Scottish Borders.

Decorated straps, buckles, rings, ornaments and chariot wheel axle caps were among the items, as was a “rattle pendant” from the harness.

It is the first such pendant to be found in Scotland and only the third in the UK.

Emily Freeman, head of the Treasure Trove Unit, which oversaw the recovery of the artefacts, 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.”

Stepien contacted the unit after he found the items, and the trove has been moved from the site in a large block of soil and taken to the National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh.

He 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 more than 3,000 years. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Freeman added: “We could not have achieved this without the responsible actions of the finder or the support of the landowners.

“The finder was quick to action when they realised that they had found an in-situ hoard, which resulted in the Treasure Trove Unit and National Museums Scotland being on site within days of discovery.”

Treasure hunting has risen in popularity in recent years, a shift some put down to the success of shows such as BBC comedy The Detectorists, starring Mackenzie Crook and Toby Jones.

More significant treasure discoveries in Britain

The Staffordshire Hoard

This is the largest collection of Anglo-Saxon gold and silver ever to be discovered, the trove’s own website states.

It is made up of fine objects that required a “very high level of craft skills” to make, the site says.

The hoard’s items would have belonged to Anglo-Saxon kings and princes, their households and warrior retinues.

Religious and animal artefacts, weapon parts and decorative items are among the almost 4,600 individual items and fragments discovered.

They were found near Hammerwich, a village near Lichfield in Staffordshire, in July 2009 by detectorist Terry Herbert.

The amount contains a combined 4g of gold, more than 1.5kg kilos of silver and thousands of garnets.

“There is nothing comparable in terms of content and quantity in the UK or Europe,” the website adds.

The Vale of York Hoard

Valued at £1m, this was found by David and Andrew Whelan, two metal detectorists, in North Yorkshire in 2007.

The Yorkshire Museum describes the find as “remarkable” due to its size and quality, “making it the most important find of its type in Britain for over 150 years”.

The Viking Age treasure contains 67 objects including ornaments, ingots and fragments called hack silver, as well as 617 coins.

Some of the objects come from as far as Afghanistan, as well as Europe.

Among the items is a silver coin, a dirham that was struck at Samarkand in what is now Uzbekistan, a city that sat on the Silk Road trading route.

The coin was traded up the rivers into Russia, then Scandinavia, until it made its way to Yorkshire, the museum added.

The Hoxne Hoard

The Hoxne Hoard is the richest Roman treasure find in Britain, according to the British Museum.

Several precious objects were found in Suffolk in 1992, alongside about 15,000 coins.

It was found by Eric Lawes, reportedly after he went looking for a lost hammer.

Among its treasures is a silver pepper pot that depicts a woman and dates to between 300 and 400 AD.


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.

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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.

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“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.

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


Bronze sword

Juchelka and his colleagues have completed several analyses of the artifacts, including tests of its chemical make-up and X-ray scans to reveal internal structures.

They've established that the ornately decorated bronze sword was crafted during the Bronze Age in northern Europe &mdash and appears most similar to "Vasby" swords, named after a town in Sweden where an early example was found.

The types of metals used in the sword indicate it was probably made outside the region where it was found, while the bronze axe may be a local production, he said.

Juchelka told Radio Prague International that the sword would have been an expensive item at the time, when the Urnfield culture was just emerging in central Europe &mdash a Bronze-Age culture so-called because of the practice of burying the dead in urns in fields.

X-rays showed air bubbles throughout the sword, likely the result of how it was crafted &mdash the most common sword-making technique at the time involved pouring molten bronze into a mold, rather than the later practice of hammering red-hot metal into shape. The air bubbles also explain why the sword wasn't especially strong, the researchers said.

Juchelka said the sword may have been used for ceremonies, rather than in combat the archaeologists, however, aren't sure how the sword and axe ended up together in the Czech forest.

"The finds may be related to a religious theme, [or] they may be part of a bronze treasure," he said. "It is not easy to say, based on what we know."


Treasure hunter discovers 'significant' collection of ancient bronze artifacts in Scotland

Using a metal detector, an amateur treasure hunter made an incredible discovery in a Scottish field.

Mariusz Stepien was searching for objects near the village of Peebles, south of Edinburgh, when he found several items dating back to the Bronze Age, including jewelry and a sword. He told The Associated Press he began "shaking with happiness," and "felt from the very beginning that this might be something spectacular and I've just discovered a big part of Scottish history."

He was right. Archaeologists from the Scottish government's Treasure Trove Unit spent 22 days digging up artifacts from the field, and on Monday, they announced that this was only the second Bronze Age hoard ever excavated in the country. With Stepien and a few of his friends looking on, the archaeologists uncovered rings, buckles, the axle caps from a chariot, and a horse harness.

This was a "nationally significant find," Emily Freeman, the head of the Treasure Trove Unit, told AP. "It was an amazing opportunity for us to not only recover bronze artifacts, but organic material as well. There is still a lot of work to be done to assess the artifacts and understand why they were deposited." The items, as well as some dirt from the field, are now at the National Museums Collection Center in Edinburgh.


Nottinghamshire

Maurice Richardson stumbled across the collection, which includes four socket axes, a spear head, a chisel and a fragmented sword, by mistake.

"I was on my way back to the car after being out all afternoon and wandered off the track," he said. "If I hadn't I wouldn't have found it."

This is the third major discovery Mr Richardson has made. In 2005 he dug up an ancient necklace valued at £350,000 while in 2010 he found a hoard of Roman coins.

The tools were found just a foot below the surface of a farmer's field.

The first things to be dug out were three of the four axes Mr Richardson said he immediately knew what they were.

The items have been confirmed by Dr Chris Robinson, an archaeological officer from Nottinghamshire County Council, as a founders hoard.

"Bronze Age metal workers tended to be itinerant. They would travel around the land plying their trade," said Dr Robinson.

"Often they would bury their produce and come back for it later."

The finds will now be submitted to the Portable Antiques Scheme (PAS) so that they can be recorded.

All prehistoric base-metal artefacts found after 1 January 2003 qualify as treasure and the PAS will forward the items to the British Museum for further assessment, dating and valuation.

Research by Mr Richardson suggests that his latest hoard may be worth a few thousand pounds.

But the tree surgeon said his hobby, which he has been doing every Saturday and Sunday afternoon for 40 years, is nothing to do with the money.

"It's the interest in the local history and the buzz from handling something that is thousands of years old," he said.

Mr Richardson confessed that there was no secret to his success.

"It's embarrassing really. There's no recipe. It just seems to happen," he said.


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