Mystery over ‘extraordinary’ haul of Bronze Age weapons unearthed in London leaves experts baffled

Mystery over 'extraordinary' haul of Bronze Age weapons unearthed in London leaves experts baffled
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Mystery over ‘extraordinary’ haul of Bronze Age weapons unearthed in London leaves experts baffled

In England, archeologists have announced that Age weapons and tools of Bronze Age, almost 3000 years old, has been discovered.

They have been found on a building site in London. The find is very important because it gives researchers a glimpse of prehistoric society.

The discovery was made by experts from Archaeological Solutions at a construction site in Havering, East London.

The precise location of the dig was kept secret as the authorities fear that it might be a magnet for illegal hunters.

It is the largest hoard of its kind found in the British capital and ‘is the third-largest ever discovered in the UK’ reports the BBC.

New planning laws in the United Kingdom require developers to notify the relevant authorities if they come across anything of potential archaeological value.

According to Historic England, the dig was ‘a planning requirement of Havering Borough Council, on the recommendation of Historic England’s Greater London Archaeology Advisory Service’. Initially, the archaeologists “were brought in to investigate a ‘crop circle’ on the site” according to London Go.

Weapon or tool head dating back to around 800 or 900 BC.
Weapon or tool head dating back to around 800 or 900 BC.

Bronze Age treasure

The archaeologists were amazed to find 453 bronze objects in four locations, and the discoveries have been called the Havering Hoard. The bronze objects date ‘from between 800BC and 900BC, was officially declared treasure by a coroner earlier this year’ according to the BBC.

The hoard includes spearheads, ax heads, bronze knives, pieces of swords and some other rare implements.

The discovery is atypical in that it was ‘recovered from four separate individuals and deliberately placed hoards within a large ancient enclosure ditch’ according to Historic England. Most Bronze Age hoards are found in one location and not near any other buried objects.

The ancient objects were unearthed at a prehistoric site near the banks of the River Thames, which was first identified in the 1960s.

Almost all of the bronze objects, which would have been very rare at the time and expensive to manufacture, were apparently deliberately broken and damaged.

The reason why they were buried so close together is rather mysterious. Roy Stephenson, of the Museum of London, stated that the discoveries raise ‘questions as to why this treasure was buried in this way and why it was never recovered’, reports the BBC.

The Bronze age weapons were discovered within an ancient square enclosure
The Bronze age weapons were discovered within an ancient square enclosure

The mystery of the bronze age weapons hoard

One theory is that they belonged to a metalworker who made bronze objects in large quantities.

According to Go London, the discoveries could ‘have been a metal worker’s former vault or an armory recycling bank or exchange’. The fact that items were buried so close together in an enclosure could indicate that they were collectively owned by a tribe or a community.

There is the possibility that the weapons and implements had become obsolete with the introduction of iron, but this does not seem likely, given the dating. It is also conceivable that the hoard was a religious offering to unknown gods.

There are many examples of this type of sacrifice from around the world. The objects may have been deliberately damaged to ensure that they could not be used again as part of a ceremony dedicating them to some deities.


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P. Natasha Covers Classical Archaeology news and has been with Histecho since 2017. She has a Master's degree in MA Archaeology from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting program. A California native, she also holds a Bachelor of science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.