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The discovery of an 'extremely rare' Bronze Age spearhead and sword has been hailed as a find of 'international significance' after they were unearthed at a Scottish building site.

The weapons were among a ground-breaking hoard of ancient artefacts discovered in a pit being developed into council football pitches close to the small town of Carnoustie.

A leather and wooden sword sheath was also found and is believed to be the best preserved Late Bronze Age scabbard in Britain.


The stockpile of metalwork hints at the wealth of the local warrior society who lived in the area around 1000-800BC...

Rare spearhead and sword are among the stunning Bronze Age treasures dug up at a Scottish building site in a 'find of a lifetime'


Gold-decorated spear was among a hoard of ancient artefacts discovered

A well-preserved leather and wooden sword sheath were also found

Experts say that the find is rare due to the survival of organic remains, such as the leather, wood, fur skin and textile

By Christina O'neill and Harry Pettit For Mailonline
15 February 2017

The discovery of an 'extremely rare' Bronze Age spearhead and sword has been hailed as a find of 'international significance' after they were unearthed at a Scottish building site.

The weapons were among a ground-breaking hoard of ancient artefacts discovered in a pit being developed into council football pitches close to the small town of Carnoustie.

A leather and wooden sword sheath was also found and is believed to be the best preserved Late Bronze Age scabbard in Britain.


The discovery of an 'extremely rare' gold-decorated spearhead (pictured) has been hailed as a find of 'international significance' after it was unearthed at a Scottish building site. The Bronze Age weapon was among a ground-breaking hoard of ancient artefacts

The stockpile of metalwork hints at the wealth of the local warrior society who lived in the area around 1000-800BC.

The dig also uncovered the largest Neolithic hall ever found in Scotland - dating back to 4000BC.

'The earliest Celtic myths often highlight the reflectivity and brilliance of heroic weapons,' Alan Hunter Blair, from the archaeology firm GUARD, said.

'Gold decoration was probably added to this bronze spearhead to exalt it both through the material's rarity and its visual impact.

'The hoard of artefacts, which are around 3,000 years old, is the find of a lifetime.

'It is very unusual to recover such artefacts in a modern archaeological excavation, which can reveal so much about the context of its burial.'

Within Britain and Ireland, only a handful of such spearheads has been found before.

'This find alone is of international significance,' Mr Blair said.


A bronze sword (pictured) was also found, alongside a leather and wooden sword sheath - believed to be the best preserved Late Bronze Age scabbard in Britain

The use of bronze to make weaponry and tools in Scotland during the Iron Age may have come from Ireland.

Ireland boasted an advanced metalworking society due to early access to bronze's key ingredients - copper and tin.

The earliest use of bronze in Scotland was in axes and spears formed in solid stone moulds.

Richer members of Scottish society began decorating their bronze weaponry and ornaments, much like the gold-decorated spear found at the Angus site.

By the final phase of the Bronze Age (900-400 BC) elaborately decorated tools, jewellery and weapons were being produced across Scotland.


The dig also uncovered the largest Neolithic hall ever found in Scotland, pictured here being dug up by archaeologists. the hall dates back to 4,000BC


Archaeologists working on the dig at Carnoustie, Angus, which has been heralded as 'internationally significant


The stockpile of metalwork hints at the wealth of the local warrior society who lived in the area around 1,000-800BC

Scientists also say the artefacts are 'extremely rare' due to the survival of organic remains, such as the leather, wood, fur skin and textile around the spearhead and scabbard.

Archaeologist Beth Spence, who undertook the laboratory excavation of the hoard, added: 'Organic evidence like Bronze Age wooden scabbards rarely survive, so this just underlines how extraordinary these finds are.'

Mr Blair told the Guide and Gazette: '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.

'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.'

Angus Council communities convener Donald Morrison said: '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.'


The dig also uncovered the largest Neolithic hall ever found in Scotland, pictured here as it is excavated by archaeologists. The hall dates back to 4,000 BC


'The hoard of artefacts, which are around three thousand years old, is the find of a lifetime,' Alan Hunter Blair, from the archaeology firm GUARD, said. 'It is very unusual to recover such artefacts in a modern archaeological excavation'


Scientists also say the artefacts are 'extremely rare' due to the survival of organic remains, such as the leather, wood, fur skin and textile around the spearhead and scabbard. Two archaeologists are pictured here working on the site where the artefacts were found


Archaeologist Beth Spence, who undertook the laboratory excavation of the hoard, added: 'Organic evidence like Bronze Age wooden scabbards rarely survive, so this just underlines how extraordinary these finds are'

THE TEAM'S EXCAVATION


The artefacts were found as part of an archaeological survey of a pit where council football pitches were being built.

The fragile nature of the remains meant that archaeologists had to remove the entire pit and the surrounding soil it was cut into as a single 80 kg block of soil.

This was then delivered to the lab where it was assessed by specialists to plan how it could be carefully excavated and the artefacts conserved.

BRONZE AGE SCOTLAND

The Bronze Age began around 3,200BC and is associated with the so-called 'Beaker People' who came to Britain from mainland Europe.

The Beaker People were so-called for the distinct shape of their pottery vessels, many of which have been found buried in their owners' graves.

The Beaker People began to populate Scotland around 2,500BC, lasting around 1,000 years until 1,500BC.

During the Beaker People's time in Scotland locals began using bronze to form tools, ornaments and weapons like the sword found at the Angus site.

The use of bronze may have come from Ireland, which boasted an advanced metalworking society due to early access to bronze's key ingredients - copper and tin.

The earliest use of bronze was in axes and spears formed in solid stone moulds.

Richer members of Scottish society began decorating their bronze weaponry and ornaments, much like the gold-decorated spear found at the Angus site.

By the final phase of the Bronze Age (900-400 BC) elaborately decorated tools, jewellery and weapons were being produced across Scotland.

Read more: 3,000-year-old spearhead and sword found in building site | Daily Mail Online
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Last edited by Blackleaf; Feb 16th, 2017 at 05:54 AM..