Bronze Age treasure found in Wales

(ORDO NEWS) — It contains no unique items. But all together they raise the question of a previously unknown ritual before scientists.

Employees of the National Museum of Wales (UK) reported that in the county of Carmarthenshire, members of the public have recently raised a lot of metal products from the ground. The county coroner has now declared the finds to be hoards.

The oldest of them belongs to the Bronze Age. It contains one large spearhead, three small fragments of a spear, a fragment of a bracelet, nine axes (with ribs of an unclear purpose) with notches for attachments, two simple axes with notches, one polished axe, two fragments of bronze sheets and casting waste.

Bronze Age treasure found in Wales 2
Medieval silver brooch

Researchers suggest that all these items were buried in the ground between 1000 and 800 BC, that is, almost (or maybe not almost) three thousand years ago.

The find is very unusual: there are no traces of a Bronze Age settlement at this place. That is, someone collected weapons, jewelry, even blanks and foundry waste, carried them away from human habitation and buried them. But there is another hypothesis.

Christopher Griffiths of the University of Reading and the National Museum of Wales suggested: “The large bronze spearhead was split in half by some blunt object. This was done before burial, and then both halves were carefully placed on top of the treasure.

It is possible that the breaking of the spearhead and the burial of the treasure was accomplished during a ceremony performed by the local community of the Bronze Age and intended as a sacrifice to the gods.

Needless to say, there were no such findings before. According to traditional ideas, people of the Bronze Age performed their rituals either in specially designated places that had some kind of sacred meaning, or right in the settlement.

And usually, as a ritual offering, they used animals, idols made of wood (often the idol symbolized human sacrifice), food. If in this case we are talking about a ritual, then this is the first example of a rite where an offering, consisting only of cast objects, was simply buried in the ground.

The other two treasures are not so ancient, but still very interesting. A medieval silver ring brooch was found in a pasture in the same county. It is decorated with thin bands of niello (an alloy of various metals and sulfur) and has a dagger-shaped pin with characteristic “studs” to prevent pinching of the fabric when worn.

The decoration was dated in comparison with other known samples and was preliminarily attributed to the 13th-14th centuries of our era.

The latest find is a silver gilded pendant in the shape of a heart, on which a bleeding wound is depicted with notches. And this is not a sign of unrequited love, as our contemporaries would have decided, but a symbol of the wound of Christ.

The pendant was dated to the 16th century, the period of conflict between the Anglican Church and Catholic Rome, the time of the Reformation.

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16th century pendant

In general, English historians traditionally consider the Reformation as a completely positive phenomenon: renewal, departure from medieval traditions, iconoclasm (accompanied, by the way, by no means a positive destruction of Catholic monasteries and desecration of shrines).

But the finds of such jewelry (certainly personal, not temple) suggest that not all British residents welcomed the Reformation: this pendant is a symbol of the Catholic faith.

Treasure hunting is extremely popular in the United Kingdom today. The fact is that ten years ago, British lawmakers made changes to the Law on Treasures.

Now a person who finds treasure and informs a representative of the authorities about it can count on payment of the full face value of the find. Until 2012, everything found was simply confiscated, since, according to the same law, all treasures raised from the ground belong to the crown.

As a result, people began to buy metal detectors and roam the fields and pastures. Unfortunately, this hobby is not as harmless as it seems at first glance.

After all, a metal detector “does not see” bones and wood, so cases have already been noted when treasure hunters mixed up or even destroyed objects important for archeology during excavations.

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