Construction Site in Scotland Yields 3,000-Year-Old Bronze Sword and Golden Spearhead

Construction Site in Scotland Yields 3,000-Year-Old Bronze Sword and Golden Spearhead

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A precious hoard of amazing ancient artifacts, including a bronze sword and a rare gold-decorated spearhead have been found in Scotland. From preliminary examination, archaeologists estimate that the valuable artifacts could be 3,000 years old.

The “Find of a Lifetime”

GUARD Archaeologists, who led the excavation on behalf of Angus Council, described the discovery as the “find of a lifetime”. The horde of Late Bronze Age weapons, which was unearthed at a Scottish construction site, includes a gold-decorated spearhead, and a bronze sword in extremely good condition.

The Bronze Age hoard as it was first revealed during excavations.

The Bronze Age hoard as it was first revealed during excavations. Photo credit: GUARD Archaeology

The artifacts were spotted during an archaeological evaluation in a field in Carnoustie ahead of the construction of two football pitches. The valuable artifacts were found in a pit close to a Bronze Age Settlement currently being excavated by the archaeologists, which GUARD Archaeology describes as a “rare and internationally significant discovery.” GUARD Project Officer Alan Hunter Blair, who directed the excavation, said, “It is very unusual to recover such artefacts in a modern archaeological excavation, which can reveal so much about the context of its burial. Owing to the fragile nature of these remains when we first discovered them, our team removed the entire pit, and the surrounding subsoil which it was cut into, as a single 80 kg block of soil,” and adds, “This was then delivered to our Finds Lab where it was assessed by a specialist finds conservator to plan how it could be carefully excavated and the artefacts conserved.”

The Immense Archaeological Significance of the Weapons

Just like Homer’s Iliad, as Alan Hunter Blair rightfully mentions, the earliest Celtic myths often highlight and worship the brilliance of heroic weapons as well. The spearhead was found next to a bronze sword, a pin, and sheath fittings. All objects date to around 1,000 BC to 800 BC, and have delighted archaeologists who consider them to be particularly significant from an archaeological point of view, even though they all agree that the gold-decorated spearhead is the one that stands out the most. “The earliest Celtic myths often highlight the reflectivity and brilliance of heroic weapons,” explained Blair in an interview with the BBC. “Gold decoration was probably added to this bronze spearhead to exalt it both through the material’s rarity and its visual impact.”

The gold spearhead found in the Bronze Age hoard.

The gold spearhead found in the Bronze Age hoard. Photo credit: GUARD Archaeology

Rare Organic Remains Also Found

The finds include a leather and wooden sheath – now considered to be the best preserved Late Bronze Age sheath ever found in Britain – that enveloped the sword. The archaeologists also found fur skin wrapped around the spearhead, and textile around the pin and sheath, which makes the finds even more interesting due to the fact that organic items of this kind rarely survive for so long in the ground. “Organic evidence like Bronze Age wooden scabbards rarely survive on dryland sites so this just underlines how extraordinary these finds are,” said GUARD Project Officer, Beth Spence, in a statement as Fox News reports

Finds Reveal Information about Local Bronze Age Community

Angus Council communities’ convener Donald Morrison added: “It is clear that Carnoustie was as much a hive of activity in Neolithic times as it is now. The discoveries made on land destined for sporting development have given us a fascinating insight into our Angus forebears and I look forward to learning more about our local prehistory.” In other words, Morrison clearly implies that the hoard is not an isolated find as some might originally thought, but was buried within a Late Bronze Age settlement, which means that it will be possible to examine the archaeological context of the hoard, revealing new information about the local Bronze Age people that buried it. The Carnoustie Bronze Age hoard is now undergoing further examination by a group of experts from across Britain, led by GUARD Archaeology, to unlock more information about the rare artifacts and the context of their burial, which may explain why this hoard was buried here.

Top image: The bronze sword discovered during excavations at Carnoustie. Photo credit: GUARD Archaeology.

By Theodoros Karasavvas


Cousin_Jack's picture

I wish they’d explore more about where the materials for artifacts came from.

I think they definitely will Jack but it'll take months if not years to do it without further damaging it,
looking forward to hearing more.

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