Treasure 20 Melton Museum – Welby Hoard

 The Welby Bronze Age metalwork hoard

The Welby Hoard did not qualify as Treasure when it was found by a farmer digging a trench in a field in 1875. Prehistoric base metal hoards have only been Treasure since 2003, a fact that has already revolutionised our knowledge of Bronze Age metalwork.  Unfortunately, only a proportion of the hoard survived, as the farmer took it to be melted down at a local foundry.

Welby hoard objects

Luckily, local resident Mr W. S. Barnes witnessed this and purchased the remaining finds. He kindly loaned these to the Museums Service. Recently his descendants, now in Australia, donated the hoard to the Leicestershire Museums Service and visited it on display in our recent Treasure exhibition in 2012.

The hoard material dates to around 1000-800BC and is very important. It contained many objects of continental origin showing that the inhabitants of Bronze Age Leicestershire were engaged in long distance trade or exchange.

The remnants of the hoard contain three socketed axes, a small bowl, a sword and probable sword fitting, a spearhead, five circular (Harness?) mounts, cauldron mounts and a few other unknown objects. One of the axes is of a type which came to be known as a ‘Welby axe’ as its form was previously unrecorded. This type of Axe is now known across Southern and Eastern England. In 2009 the Rothley Hoard was found with a very rare complete axe mould (see blog- Charnwood Museum – Rothley Hoard) which would have made a Welby type axe, so they were being made locally.  The bowl is also very unusual, as most of that date would be ceramic, it was described as unique by archaeologists a few decades ago.

The hoard is on display at Melton Carnegie Museum