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Author Topic: The Day i found my Bronze Age Hoard  (Read 20580 times)
Al.Thepastfinder, ( Alan )
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« on: November 09, 2008, 02:46:14 PM »

The day i Found my Bronze Age Hoard

Well, Saturday had come around again, our usual day for going out Metal Detecting. There are usually three of us now, Roy, Jeff and myself.

On this particular Saturday though Roy couldn’t join us as he had to stay at home and baby-sit his grand children.

If I were still married this would have been my 29th wedding anniversary.

Jeff and myself decided well, we can still go out. Roy usually gets a bit glum when we go out without him though, in case we find something nice and he misses out. We went out a couple times last year when Roy couldn’t make it. We went to fields that he didn’t like and found a couple of nice hammered coins each time, Roy was none too happy about our success though.

Anyhow, Jeff picked me up at the usual time and off we went. On the way we were discussing which farm to visit. We decided on a farm to which we had only acquired a couple of weeks earlier. I said there is a field there that I would like to have another look at. I was there with Roy a couple of weeks ago, it was one of the many fields where he had raced down the side, and then came over to me and said, “co’mon lets go there’s nothing in here”.  I tried to get him to stop a while as i was just starting to find old Victorian stuff,  but no way would he have it,  he always wants to be somewhere else, especially if i start finding,  Then he has to be first there and expect you to follow in his footsteps.

When we got to the farm, we called in at the farmhouse to see if it would be ok to go onto the particular field that we had in mind.

His wife came out to meet us, and said that “her husband was out on the land somewhere, but it would be o.k. for us to go on there. She said that it has been sprayed with weed killer, but it should be safe enough now, they are hoping to plough it in about 2 weeks time.”

She asked us about metal detecting, and what we find, so we stayed there for a while chatting and telling her about some of our past finds. She asked us about hoards, we said that we have never found any, but we know a man that has, and told her the story about that.

Jeff told her about the bronze age axe head that he had found a couple of years ago, and sold it to the museum. I had also found a palstave axe head from the middle bronze age, 1500 years B.C. But as for hoards we don’t usually hear of many coming up from this part of the country. The main part of the hobby is that it gets you out of the house, a break from all the work and all those blooming sales people on the telephone, It gets us out into the countryside to enjoy all the peace and quiet, fresh air and exercise, Whatever comes out of the ground is a bonus. There is such a variety of things in the ground you never know what is going to come up at the next signal.

We said our thank you’s and made our way to the field.

Once in the field we said well, this looks good for detecting. All the grass had died right back. We unloaded all our gear and kitted up,  I said to Jeff  “I’ve got a strong feeling that a hammered is going to come up today, I’ve got a strange warm, calm feeling about this field”.

Off we went on our separate ways, in different directions. I soon had my first signal, which was a round 1oz brass Coffee Pot weight,   I then combed the area in case there had been any trading going on there in the past. But nothing else came up.

I then made my way up the gentle slope of the field, On the way to the top I dug out a medium sized rectangular Horse Brass, soon after that a larger one, which was inscribed Tiyorworth Saddler Cowbridge, which is the first inscribed horse brass that I have found. Working my way across the top I then found a small rectangular horse brass,

                                                Moving on to the far side I received another signal, I dug it out and bingo, a nice hammered coin. On closer inspection I could then see that it was a Henry 8th Hammered Groat.

Now, Henry the 8th had a farmhouse very close to here that he used to use as a hunting lodge, I wonder if he himself had lost it when he was out and about hunting.

Now, I know that I had this warm, calm peaceful feeling, and a feeling for a hammered coin when I first stepped into this field, but I could never have visualised what would happen next.

Just then, Jeff came rushing over to me. I said there you are Jeff. I said that I had a feeling that a hammered would come off here today, “Oh yes”! said Jeff, “very nice”, But I could see a smile on his face, and his hand twitching eagerly, waiting to dive down into his finds bag. I said go on then Jeff. show me what you’ve found. His hand flew into his finds bag and brought out a bronze age palstave axe head. I said “blimey”! “well done Jeff.”

On closer inspection we could see that it had a loop, which would make it the later half of the middle bronze age about 1,300 B.C.With that,he went back into his finds bag and brought out another 4 blade end halves of socketed axe heads. Isaid “strewth ! Jeff”. you’ve found a scattered founders hoard by the looks of things. Come on lets go back over and mop up. I told Jeff that if I do find any then I’ll give them back to him as they would probably be part of his hoard.

On the way over we were discussing his broken off pieces, It looks like they were deliberately broken. Why would somebody do that?  We asked. But a few days later when all then excitement had settled down a bit, I remembered reading somewhere of how bronze age weapons were deliberately broken, or killed, before being presented as votive offerings to the gods. Would this be to put off any body who may have wanted to retrieve them to use themselves?

When we got to Jeff’s finds area I could see that they had been scattered over an area of about 25 sq yds, so I left Jeff to carry on detecting that area while I worked the ground around the outside to see if any had been dragged out further by the plough.

 After about an hour Jeff had found a couple more pieces of axe heads, I’d searched all around the outside edges. I thought I would leave him to it now, and wondered off to the other side of the field out of the way.

I had walked about a hundred yards when my detector gave a nice positive signal. I thought to myself, this is not another penicillin tube is it?  We find hundreds of these on the farms around here, and they do give a nice signal. I tried again and thought maybe not, this signal has a deeper more solid sound, and more cleaner,  it sounds near to the surface,  so I dug my shovel in a couple of inches, and again around the side so I can flap the turf back. As I did this there lay a 5 inch section of bronze sword blade, I thought oh!  there’s some bronze over here as well,  I lifted it out and had a look at it, I tried the hole again, and there was another signal, so I gently dug a bit more, “blimey” I thought to myself, I could see the socket of an axe head, so carefully digging around it with my fingers I managed to get it out. I tried the hole again, and there was another signal, digging down again I could see another axe head. At this stage I stood up and shouted over to Jeff who was on his mobile phone telling his wife Jan. about his find. I made some gestures to him to inform him of my find.

I then knelt back down and continued to dig the axe head out with my fingers. I tried the hole again with my detector, and yet another signal, I cant believe this I thought to myself. I dug again and out came 2 more pieces of sword blade, they just kept coming and coming. At every signal I thought, well this must be the last one, and then came yet another axe head.

I then laid them all out on the ground to have a good look at them and to marvel at the workman ship that’s gone into making them. I looked at the field again and tried to picture the scene of what may have been happening there over 3 thousand years ago. Also trying to believe what was happening. It was also hard to believe that I was the first person to have held these pieces in over 3,000 years.

Something else was also going through my mind, if the bronze age people who deposited these items could see us now, what would they be thinking, and would they be angry with us? Also, is there some one up there looking down on us ?

At that point Jeff arrived to see what all the gesturing was about. Wow, “ look at them” he said,” he got straight back on his mobile phone to phone his wife again to tell her about what I have found.

I continued to clear the soil away from my target to reveal a beautiful bronze sword handle.

As I was gently teasing it out I was making a few oo’s and ahh’s and then a big yeeees that’s beautiful when I had finally got it out.

Jeff’s wife said to him “That sounds better than having an orgasm”. I didn’t realize that I was making so much noise with all the excitement, or that she could hear me.

As I got it out, I disturbed a lump of soil on the side of the hole, which revealed the tops of 2 more axe heads.

At this point we thought we had better stop here and let the museum excavate the rest. We didn’t really know how many more could be down there, and the museum could learn so much more by excavating them themselves. We also had to inform the farmer of the find and explain the importance of it, and to advice him that the museum should really be informed.

We backfilled the hole, replaced the turf, tidied up the area, and marked the spot with a stick so we will be able to find the exact spot without too much trouble when we return in a few days time.

We went and told the famer then,  and showed him what we had found, ho looked at them a bit puzzled,  Saying What!!!,  if i'd have noticed them i'd have thrown them in the hedge out of the way thinking they were rubbish,   He and ouselves just couldn't work out how the plough hadn't hit and scattered my hoard over the many years of ploughing,

Now I have read in the past of other hoards being found, and when they have been excavated the weather has suddenly changed. This also happened to us.

The weather this day was very hot and sunny with clear skies, I was wearing my summer vest with shorts and trainers, but when I started taking the items from the hole it started getting dark and cloudy, as we made our way over to the farm to tell the farmer about our finds it started raining, on the way home it got heavier and heavier, in fact torrential, the roads started flooding, and we had a job to see out of the wind screen, even though the windscreen wipers were on at full speed. We managed to get back o.k. We called at Jeff’s house first to show his wife Jan.our finds. She had newspaper laid out one the table ready for us to put our finds on. Jan was just as excited and elated as we were. Jeff then dropped me back home.

About 2 hours after finding the hoards, when I had the axe heads and sword blades laid out on my kitchen work top, Gwilym, another friend called in and right behind him was my daughter Joanne and her partner Steve. I was showing them my hoard when the biggest and most illuminative thunderstorm that I’d seen for a long time took place,  It was directly overhead.

 Joanne, Steve and Gwilym went outside to see the lightning and how it was lighting everything up, I wanted to go out and see it as well and get my camcorder to film it, but i couldn’t pull myself away from the axeheads.

. Another thought,. which was going through my mind was,  were the gods after me? If I did go outside would I be struck down by a fork of lightning, I will never know now, But at least I’m still here to tell the story, which I may not have been if I had gone outside.

I started thinking, when I crossed the field I could have walked any where along a 100 yard stretch, how did I go straight to this hoard in a 9 inch square hole. Was I led to it? I wonder. But perhaps not, because these hoards it seems, may have been votive offerings, offered to the gods to appease them in a bronze age ritual when this ground would have been very wet and marshy, or possibly underwater or on the edge of a lake.

Did I upset the gods by removing them from their resting place?, Is this why the weather suddenly changed?, Or was it coincidence?, I wonder.

Then another sort of thunderstorm took place, Roy phoned to see why we were late getting home, (it was a couple of hours later than our usual finishing time).

He asked what we had found to keep us out for so long , all in the same worried breath.

I told him 2 bronze age hoards, Jeff had found one himself, then I found one, 34 items in all. The phone went quiet for a moment, Then he said “I knew something was wrong!   Where are they now he demanded, I want to see them, bring them around my house", i told him i couldn't as i had visitors”,  i'll come around there then he belowed,  He drove around to my house in record time, Looked at them aghast, and called me everything under the sun, He then stormed off, and drove to Jeff’s house to see his hoard.

Roy wasn’t a very happy chappie, and I thought  he’d be so pleased for us.


First thing on Monday morning Jeff phoned the National Museum of Wales and reported the finds to MARK LODWICK, (the portable antiquities co-ordinator for Wales). He came into work that morning hoping to get through a pile of work in the museum, but when Jeff told him of our finds he came out to meet us straight away. We met him en-route and took him to the site, he was accompanied by EVAN CHAPMAN, the museums archaeologist.

We drove to the farm and checked in with the farmer before going onto the field. There, Evan and Mark got out their metre square grid and started excavating my hoard site. This gave Jeff and myself the chance to do a bit more detecting, by carefully detecting the dug out spoil to make sure that there was no more bronze in there. Besides the 2 axe heads that I new I had left in there they found another 2 axeheads plus 2 more pieces of sword blade.

They wanted to return the following week to have a look at Jeff’s site and survey the field. Mark checked around Jeff’s site, but decided that there was no reason to do anything else there,  and then  went around the site surveying with Jackie the Museum's Artist. and Photographer.

Jeff's Total was :- 1 palstave axehead,

  2 socketed axeheads

6 half axeheads.


My total was :-- 10 socketed axeheads of various sizes,

6 x 5 inch pieces of sword blade.

2 different types of sword handles.

Whent he museum cleaned out the sockets of mine they also found that

one axehead contained :- a casting jet,

Another contained :- 2 spear handle furrels and a spear head.

All the items from the 2 hoards were left with Mark and Evan to take back to the museum to clean, record and preserve.

I think we have done our bit now by finding them and preventing them from any further damage being done to them by the plough and bronze disease, and also by letting them appear in the local newspaper along with a brief write up about their history.

A find like this we felt, was too good to keep to ourselves, we felt that it should be shared with the people in the area,

There has been a long delay in getting the hoards back. In the time that the hoards were in the museum, the BBC’s archaeological team visited there a couple of times, and expressed a big interest for them to appear in their new 8 part series, called Hidden Treasure to be screened in the autumn.

I’m sorry that I can’t include Roy’s comments about his excitement for us in finding these hoards, as such a decent and respectable magazine such as this I’m sure wouldn’t allow them in print, But he did tell people that he had a much better time looking after his grandchildren than he would have had being out with Jeff and myself finding hoards, So it seems that we were all happy and contented with our day.

Take Care, be lucky and Good Hunting.

Alan Jenkins.

Since writing this story i have had the hoard returned to me after two and a half years,
5 of the 10 Axeheads have been returned to the farmer as finds from his farm.

 We also gave him reports and pictures from the museum to keep with them.

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« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2008, 11:38:23 AM »

Excellent story Alan - well written and entertaining! Sounds like one Hell of a day. Well done on the finds.


There comes a time in every rightly constructed boys life when he has a raging urge to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.

Mark Twain 1835 - 1910

If anyone wants to sell any S c r a p gold or sovereigns, regardless of condition -  ask me for a price first please.
Al.Thepastfinder, ( Alan )
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« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2008, 12:11:18 PM »

  Thanks Neil,
  a long one though doh,  yes one great day mate,  things just wern't the same after that  lol

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« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2008, 11:17:41 PM »

It doesent sound like roy is a very nice bloke to know. Smiley
BottyBurp (Kris)
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2008, 01:09:54 AM »

Very interesting Alan, your claim to fame.
One day my time will come  Smiley (I hope)  Wink

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Al.Thepastfinder, ( Alan )
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2008, 07:22:25 AM »

There's every chance Botty,

ironron,  he's not,  that was the beginning of the end,  he held the grudges for ages after, well a couple of years,  i had to get out of it for my own well being in the end mate,


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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2008, 10:24:24 PM »

Well done Allan,and a very well written story,definately the find of a lifetime,any chance of some pictures. Smiley
Al.Thepastfinder, ( Alan )
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« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2008, 08:27:16 AM »

Thank you Simon, 
 i had the pics in my story i wrote about it, and on my website which both went last weekend when aol closed down all their sites,
they are in the picture gallery though.
 Cheers now

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