Rare Bronze Age Spearhead has Remained Intact for Thousands of Years!
A metal detectorist has made a great discovery on the island of Jersey – a rare and complete metal spearhead that is thousands of years old. Researchers have called the Bronze Age spearhead “unique to the Channel Islands and a rare find in Great Britain.”
The metal detectorist who made the discovery, Jay Cornick, followed proper procedure and brought it to Jersey Heritage to be recorded. Jersey Heritage’s Curator of Archaeology, Olga Finch, explained that the Bronze Age spearhead “is a really exciting find for Jersey [because] it is unique and very rare in terms of its large size and the fact that it is intact.”
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The Late Bronze Age spearhead was discovered in excellent condition. (Jersey Heritage)
What Makes the Spearhead So Special?
Paul Driscoll, Archaeology and Historic Environment Record Officer for the Department of Environment and Community Services in Bristol, says that the metal spearhead stands out because it is in such great condition thousands of years after it was created. He told Jersey Heritage:
“Many of the spears in the Jersey Heritage collection are broken – I think deliberately in prehistory as they are uniform in their breakage and thus unlikely to be random…there are, however, a few intact examples but none that parallel this one.”
Weapons That Were Ritually “Killed”
Many cultures have partaken in a funerary practice of ritually “killing” weapons before burying them. Broken spearheads and swords are especially common to find in graves. This phenomenon is often associated with Iron Age European society, where weapons were anthropomorphized.
Bent sword from an exhibition at The Swedish History Museum. (The Swedish History Museum / CC BY-SA 2.0) Many ancient cultures ritually “killed” weapons before burying them.
The most popular explanation for the practice is that weapons were believed to have their own spirits and they had to be “killed” to release the spirit, allowing the weapon to accompany its human owner into the afterlife. It has also been suggested that weapons may have been broken to deter grave robbers from stealing them.
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The Spearhead Discovery at a Glance
- The spearhead was discovered on a beach at Gorey on the island of Jersey by a metal detectorist.
- Remnants of the wooden shaft remain inside the spearhead and were used for carbon dating.
- It was created between 1207 BC and 1004 BC, during the Late Bronze Age.
- Finding a complete spearhead is rare for this location during that period.
In the Museum and at the Beach
The spearhead is displayed at the Jersey Museum & Art Gallery. Finch says that most of the Bronze Age metal tools and weapons which are included in the collection “are mainly from hoards, which are usually great deposits of metal tools and weapons but mostly broken up and used. This spearhead is completely different from everything else we have.”
The rarity of the artifact has led researchers to wonder if it belonged to an offering or was used in some sort of ritual. Experts are being called in to search the location where the spearhead was found, with hopes that there may be more artifacts unearthed and information revealed about the Bronze Age in Jersey.
Top Image: The Late Bronze Age spearhead discovered on a beach on the island of Jersey. Source: Jersey Heritage
By Alicia McDermott