Museum Musings – April 2021

Somehow I can’t believe it is already April! This month looking in the West Berkshire Museum archive I came across the Yattendon Hoard.

It is made up of a total of 57 bronze objects, tools and weapons discovered in 1876 during excavations instigated by Alfred Waterhouse for the foundations of the mansion Yattendon Court on the top of the hill west of the village of Yattendon.

The hoard of bronze objects were lying together; there was no sign of their being enclosed in a vase or box and the surrounding gravel was stained a greenish colour. The objects lay approx 18in below the level of the sod in gravel which had been subjected to a heating action although none of the implements showed the same damage. The bulk of the material belongs to the Late Bronze Age however a flat axe of the Early Bronze Age is also present along with palstaves of the Middle Bronze Age and spearheads of Middle Bronze Age type.

It isn’t the only hoard from West Berkshire. The Lambourne Hoard from the Middle Bronze Age hoard consists of two twisted arm/neck ornaments and three penannular bracelets (BERK-6863E4; BERK-683F91; BERK-6870F5; BERK-83AC41, BERK-687927).


The former are coiled (either because they could more easily be buried, or because they were worn on the arms). They both have four-flange twisted bodies, and plain terminals which expand gently towards the ends. The terminals are doubled back. One is more slender than the other. These will be referred to as ‘armlets’, to distinguish them from the bracelets. Of the three bracelets, two are relatively slender the other is thicker. This last has terminals which almost meet; the other two have wider gaps. Composition: The analysis gave an estimate of 82% of gold content, except of the smaller armlet which was 79%.


Associations of the two types of object represented in this hoard are well known. Both being to well-documented classes of ornament belonging to the Middle Bronze Age, circa 1300-1100BC. This is reinforced by the analyses, which accord well with other objects of this class and date.

These two hoards are currently on display at West Berkshire Museum and can be seen when we reopen at the end of May.

Another Middle Bronze age hoard, but this time from Windsor and Maidenhead comprises a double-strand, twisted gold wire ornament with plain loop terminals, coiled and threaded with four double composite rings and one single ring all of c-shaped cross section. One of these was found separately and reattached to the ornament by the finder.


Another example of a gold bracelet threaded with pennannular rings was recorded from northeast Norfolk (Treasure Annual Report 2004, p22 No.6), and both single and composite rings have been recorded separately by the PAS (e.g. IOW-1F5D46). 

Composite rings have been found singly and associated with other gold personal ornaments. They may also be found linked together. In Britain they may be dated by association to the Middle Bronze Age. In common with some other gold ornament types they are also found in Ireland and France though they appear to be rarer in Ireland. At Stretham, Cambridgeshire six composite rings were found threaded onto a penannular bracelet; a twisted neck ornament and a bronze rapier were found in association. A Treasure find from North East Norfolk (2004/T81) comprised a plain loop of thick gold wire threaded with seven composite and two simple rings.