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450 Bronze Age axes and spears dug up at building site

Big dig: Archaeologists found trove

A TREASURE trove of Bronze Age tools and weapons found on a building site is to go on display at the Museum of London Docklands.

More than 450 bronze objects — including fragments of axe heads, spears, swords, daggers and knives — were dug up last September in Havering, near the Thames in east London, and later declared treasure by the coroner.

Dating from between 900 and 800BC, the objects came to light when archaeology experts were asked to look at a site being developed for gravel extraction.

The collection’s curator, Kate Sumnall, said the ‘exceptional’ discovery, dubbed the Havering Hoard, gives vital clues to Bronze Age life.

Heads we win: An axe head is among tools that explain Bronze Age life PICTURES: PA

‘Our knowledge of the Bronze Age is quite fragmentary,’ she said. ‘But every time we find something it gives us another piece of jigsaw.’

She added: ‘This may have been a store for a metal worker, or some sort of offering to the gods perhaps. We don’t know. It may have been for recycling. Bronze can be melted down and recast almost an infinite number of times.’

The find, one of the large Bronze Age collections in the UK, also points to ‘overlaps’ between the Bronze Age and today, she said.

‘There was climate change, but that was part of a natural pattern, and so water levels were rising. If settlements were adjacent to rivers, people may have had to move and weapons could have been buried.’

Almost all the items are part broken or damaged and it is not known why they were not recovered.

The collection is due to go on display at the Docklands museum in April, before being transferred to the Havering Museum.