The largest ever Bronze Age hoard in London has been discovered

Related Articles

Related Articles

The largest ever Bronze Age hoard to be discovered in London, the third largest of its kind in the UK, has been unearthed in Havering.

This hugely significant find will go on display for the first time as the focal point of a major exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands in April 2020.

A total of 453 bronze objects dating between c.900 and c.800 BC have been uncovered during a planned archaeological investigation, with weapons and tools including axe heads, spearheads, fragments of swords, daggers and knives found alongside some other unusual objects, which are rarely found in the UK.

 

Almost all the weapons appear to be partially broken or damaged, raising questions as to why these objects ended up being carefully buried in groups close together. The deliberate placement of these items may suggest a specialist metal worker operated in this area, and this large scale deposit of bronze may represent an accumulation of material akin to a vault, recycling bank or exchange. Could this treasure have been a religious offering, were they hoping to recycle the metal, control access to the material, or did Bronze Age tools lose their value with the emergence of iron technology?

Objects from the hoard and an in-depth look into these questions will be presented to the public for the first time next year at the Museum of London Docklands. All the archaeological work was agreed with and closely monitored by Historic England, assisted by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and further conservation and analysis of the artefacts is currently underway which will reveal more insights into this incredible find.

A Bronze Age axe head surrounded by a selection of objects from the Havering Hoard (c) Museum of London

Roy Stephenson, London’s Historic Environment Lead at the Museum of London, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to display this momentous discovery for the first time at the Museum of London Docklands as the centrepiece of a major exhibition in April 2020.

It’s incredibly rare to have uncovered a hoard of this size on one site. This discovery is of huge importance and raises questions as to why this treasure was buried in this way and why it was never recovered? These questions and more will be investigated in the exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands next year.

Our thanks go to Archaeological Solutions, Historic England, Ingrebourne Valley Ltd, and Havering Museum who we’ve worked closely with on this find. We look forward to working with them more as we move towards the opening of the exhibition.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England, said: “This extraordinary discovery adds immensely to our understanding of Bronze Age life. It also underlines the importance of planned assessment and, when appropriate, excavation in archaeological hotspots when new development comes along. The opportunity to investigate here and ultimately unearth the remarkable hoards that have come to light was only possible because of the effective partnership between archaeologists and developers.

The finds have already taught us a great deal about this distant age, and on-going analysis and public outreach means that many more people will benefit from this window into the past thanks to this example of successful development-led archaeology.”

Andrew Peachey, Specialist in Prehistoric and Roman Pottery at Archaeological Solutions, said: “The excavation has been an unprecedented opportunity and experience for our team to be able to excavate these intricate bronze hoards in such a valuable context.  The setting of many hoards is often unclear, but these were deliberately placed and aligned within a late Bronze Age enclosure so that we could excavate them in their entirety.

The location of the enclosure and hoards, overlooking the river Thames, made for a dramatic setting, especially as the sun rose and set, highlighting that in prehistory this would have been a special location. We are very grateful for the continued support of Ingrebourne Valley Ltd and look forward to further specialist analysis of the finds and working with the Museum of London on an exhibition to bring new life to old bronzes.”

Peter Stewart, Chair of the Havering Museum, said: “Havering Museum is very proud to be associated with the Museum of London and to be given the opportunity of displaying artefacts from the incredible Bronze Age hoard following the major exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands. The Hoard is hugely significant in the long history of Havering and London and will prove to be a great attraction and educational resource for both museums.”

HAVERING MUSEUM

Header Image – A Bronze Age axe head from the Havering Hoard 3 (c) Museum of London

Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic

LATEST NEWS

Walking, Talking and Showing Off – a History of Roman Gardens

In ancient Rome, you could tell a lot about a person from the look of their garden. Ancient gardens were spaces used for many activities, such as dining, intellectual practice, and religious rituals.

Curious Kids: How did the First Person Evolve?

We know humans haven’t always been around. After all, we wouldn’t have survived alongside meat-eating dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex.

Ring-like Structure on Ganymede May Have Been Caused by a Violent Impact

Researchers from Kobe University and the National Institute of Technology, Oshima College have conducted a detailed reanalysis of image data from Voyager 1, 2 and Galileo spacecraft in order to investigate the orientation and distribution of the ancient tectonic troughs found on Jupiter’s moon Ganymede.

Tracing Evolution From Embryo to Baby Star

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) took a census of stellar eggs in the constellation Taurus and revealed their evolution state.

“Woodhenge” Discovered in the Iberian Peninsula

Archaeologists conducting research in the Perdigões complex in the Évora district of the Iberian Peninsula has uncovered a “Woodhenge” monument.

New Fossil Discovery Shows How Ancient ‘Hell Ants’ Hunted With Headgear

Researchers from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT), Chinese Academy of Sciences and University of Rennes in France have unveiled a stunning 99-million-year-old fossil pristinely preserving an enigmatic insect predator from the Cretaceous Period -- a 'hell ant' (haidomyrmecine) -- as it embraced its unsuspecting final victim, an extinct relative of the cockroach known as Caputoraptor elegans.

New Algorithm Suggests That Early Humans and Related Species Interbred Early and Often

A new analysis of ancient genomes suggests that different branches of the human family tree interbred multiple times, and that some humans carry DNA from an archaic, unknown ancestor.

Long Neck Helped Reptile Hunt Underwater

Its neck was three times as long as its torso, but had only 13 extremely elongated vertebrae: Tanystropheus, a bizarre giraffe-necked reptile which lived 242 million years ago, is a paleontological absurdity.

Popular stories

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.

Did Corn Fuel Cahokia’s Rise?

A new study suggests that corn was the staple subsistence crop that allowed the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia to rise to prominence and flourish for nearly 300 years.

The Real Dracula?

“Dracula”, published in 1897 by the Irish Author Bram Stoker, introduced audiences to the infamous Count and his dark world of sired vampiric minions.