WILT-038191: Bronze Age torc with rings

Rights Holder: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
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Rights Holder: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
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Rights Holder: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
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Rights Holder: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
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Rights Holder: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
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Rights Holder: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
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Rights Holder: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
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HOARD

Unique ID: WILT-038191

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

In 2012 a Middle Bronze Age hoard was discovered while metal detecting on cultivated land. The find consists of 41 copper alloy objects split across two deposits or concentrations of finds, with a small number of finds found a short distance away. All the objects are of a similar typo-chronology and are likely to represent a single hoard comprised of 31 'ornaments', 8 'tools' and 4 'other' or unidentified objects.

The artefacts were recovered by the finders from two deposits in close proximity (c.2-3m apart), with two pits subsequently identified by a local amateur archaeology group (the Wiltshire Archaeology Field Group) on the 10th November 2012. There was, however, no opportunity to independently date the pit cuts. The first deposit appears to have been a closed deposit, with the finders noting that the torcs were 'stacked' on top of one another within the pit (verbal communication). The second deposit is likely to have been disturbed by agricultural operations as the objects were dispersed across a small area.

A miniature axe of Late Iron Age to Roman date was also discovered by the finders. It does not form part of the Treasure case although but is recorded below as a 'non-associated find'.

A site visit by Richard Henry (Finds Liaison Officer, Wiltshire) and Neil Wilkin (Bronze Age curator, The British Museum) to examine the landscape setting and clarify details of discovery with the finders took place on Sunday the 13th of October 2013.

The below catalogue has been constructed prior to conservation and cleaning. Several objects have considerable quantities of chalky soil still adhering to them and obscuring features that could be of significance for refining typological determinations and recognising production techniques. The weights and measurements are given only as a preliminary guide and will be subject to future change.

Description

Note: The numbers in parenthesis relate to originally assigned numbers on finds bags and are retained as a precautionary measure and to aid identification during the Treasure process. New numbers have been assigned at the start of each entry in the catalogue to reflect the refitting of fragments after they arrived at The British Museum.

'Deposit 1'

The first deposit (objects Nos. 1-29) consists of 33 fragments from 28 objects of Middle Bronze Age date comprising of 21 ornaments, three tools and four 'other' object types. This includes 3 spiral twisted torcs, a ribbed bracelet, 3 finger rings, 1 annular arming, 1 spiral twisted bracelet, 1 spiral twisted armring, 2 awls, 1 modified tanged blade, 1 stone whetstone and several fragments of possible torcs, armrings and bracelets. The finder noted that many of the objects were found in close proximity, as if stacked on top of one another, and several were looped over one another (see details below). A second ribbed bracelet (No. 29) was apparently not part of this deposit/concentration, but was found a short distance away.

Ornaments

1. Spiral twisted torc (1, 12, 21)

A near complete copper alloy spiral twisted torc in three separate fragments (No. 1 a-c): one single hook, a body fragment and a larger hemispherical in plan fragment which retains the second integral hook. The torc is penannular in plan and formed from a single twisted rod that is sub-circular in section. This rod has been twisted to produce fine regular ridges throughout the body of the torc. The torc is thickest in the middle (measuring 5.1mm in diameter) and narrows through the course of the penannular form to two outward facing hooks. These are sub-oval in section and appear flattened and smoothed in contrast to the body of the torc. The three fragments appear dark grey in colour and of a good condition beneath the extensive soil, with slight traces of green corrosion product visible on the largest fragment.

A spiral twisted bracelet (No. 2, below) was looped around one of the fragments of this torc. The finders verbally confirmed that this is how they were found.

Dimensions: The diameter of the complete torc is 188mm with the body measuring 5.1mm in thickness at the centre, tapering to a thickness of 4mm at the hook. The combined weight of these fragments is 55.41 grams.

2. Spiral twisted bracelet (20)

A small complete copper alloy spiral twisted wire bracelet of Rowlands type 3.B.2. The bracelet is circular in plan and sub-circular in section, with the bracelet form being completed with hooked terminals; these have been retained in their interlocked state. The metal is a dark grey colour, although currently concealed by extensive soil. The finders verbally confirmed that this bracelet was found looped over the larger fragment of the spiral twisted torc fragment (No.1, above) when found in 'Deposit 1' and was not looped after discovery.

Dimensions: The bracelet is 59.6mm in diameter, with the diameter of the wire 2.4mm. It weighs 4.22 grams.

3. Ribbed bracelet (29, 30)

A near complete cast copper alloy ribbed bracelet of Rowlands type 3.A in two fragments. One fragment is of fair condition whilst the larger fragment exhibits additional damage in a vertical break transverse to the bracelet. The bracelet is sub-circular in plan, broad in profile and flat in section, with the prior damage to the two fragments resulting in an enhanced overlap of the body at the terminals. The interior surface of this bracelet is flattened, with a series of five evenly spaced ribs on the exterior surface. The central rib is more pronounced than the two either side of it, whilst the outer two ribs form parallel-everted sides to the bracelet. This has been partially clipped on the larger fragment. A series of incised notches are visible on the two ribs either side of the central rib, in contrast to the accompanying bracelet where detail is preserved in the spaces between the ribs. The bracelet is completed with squared off terminals formed by folding over the sheet copper alloy. This artefact is concealed by moderate soil but displays a dark grey colour overall, with the condition of the metal aside from the damage fairly good.

The bracelet is the same form and has the same decoration as No. 29, found a short distance from 'Deposit 1'.

Dimensions: The bracelet measures 59.1mm in diameter, with a width of 26.7mm across the band and a thickness of 4.3mm. The fragments have a combined weight of 62.21 grams.

4-7. Spiral twisted torc with three finger-rings (27, 25)

Two fragments of a broken copper alloy spiral twisted torc (No. 4 a & b), one fragment has three rings looped around it (Nos. 5-7); two of the rings are plain spirals in form (Rowlands type 4.1), with the third ring ribbed (Rowlands type 4.3). The first torc fragment (No. 4a) is hemispherical in plan and sub-circular in section, and is formed from a single twisted copper alloy rod. The three rings have soil retained within them suggesting a pre-depositional association. The first two rings are formed of single sub-oval in section wire which has been looped around twice to form the rings; the third is a sub-rectangular in section copper alloy band with five exterior ridges, with the central ridge pronounced and the exterior two ribs producing an everted edge. The three rings and the torc fragment are all a dark grey colour, with areas of green corrosion on the torc. Finger-rings of a similar form can be found in Rowlands (1976, 96, also plate 21), and Roberts (2007, 3, fig. 2, 12-13). The finders verbally confirmed that the items were looped when found in 'Deposit 1' and were not looped after discovery.

The second copper alloy torc fragment (No. 4b), is hemispherical in plan and sub-circular in section, and retains a complete and narrowed hook for attachment to one end. Looped within this hook are the remains of the secondary hook, which has broken just at the transition of the hook to the now absent spiral body. This fragment has a dark grey colour overall with traces of green corrosion product in certain areas.

Dimensions: The torc fragment (No. 4a) with three rings lopped around it is 5.2mm thick and has a diameter of 152.2mm. The first ring (No. 5) formed of the looped single wire measures 26.5mm in diameter with a width across the finger-ring of 13.6mm; the second ring (No. 6) has a diameter of 25mm, with the width across the ring 17.3mm; and the third ribbed ring (No. 7) 23.4mm in diameter with the width across the ring 19.4mm. The combined weight of the torc fragment and three rings is 94.3 grams. The second torc fragment (No. 4b) has a diameter of 137.5mm, a width of the rod 5.8mm and a thickness 5.3mm. It weighs 29.39 grams.

8. Annular armring (9)

A complete copper alloy annular armring of Rowlands Type 3.D.1. It is sub-oval in plan and sub-circular in section with flattened internal and external edges. The arming appears to be formed from a solid copper alloy rod as a visible attachment seam is retained, which is uneven. Small linear file marks are visible on the flattened surface near to the join, with a few smaller marks on the opposing flattened side. This armring has a mid-dark brown copper colour with patches of green corrosion product, but appears in good condition overall.

Dimensions: This armring measures 82.3mm in diameter, with the thickness and width of the band 8.8mm. It weighs 99.15g.

9. Spiral twisted armring (23)

A near or possibly complete copper alloy spiral twisted armring of Rowlands Type 3.C.3. The armring is circular in plan and formed of a circular in section twisted wire which overlaps to form the terminals. The wire is moderately substantial through the body, with the thickest point in the centre, and tapers towards the overlapped terminals with one terminal appearing particularly narrowed. This armring appears a dark grey colour underneath the moderate soil, but is in good condition.

Dimensions: The armring has a diameter of 91mm, with the wire measuring 6.9mm in width and 6.4mm in thickness. It weighs 61.75 grams.

10. Spiral twisted torc (25, 24)

Two large fragments of a broken but complete spiral twisted copper alloy torc. The first fragment (No. 10a) is sub-circular in section and hemispherical in plan, and retains a complete narrowed hook to one end. At the opposing end of this fragment the area which would have formed the central portion of the completed torc is widened and thickened with a sub-oval in plan globular form. This globular form is not twisted but appears undecorated, with a slight hollow to the interior. It is possible that this might represent a repair of the spiral-twisted torc body rather than an intended decorative element. The fragment still retains extensive soil but appears in a good condition with a dark grey colour overall. The second fragment of spiral twisted torc (No. 10b) is dark grey in colour, with moderate soil coverage.

N.B. Photographs taken shortly after the excavation of the torc fragments show the spiral twisted armring (No. 9) looped around it. The objects were not looped when they arrived at the British Museum.

Dimensions: The first fragment (No. 10a) has a diameter of 182mm, with the diameter of the wire 18.8mm with an increased thickness to 26mm at the globule. It weighs 119.36 grams. The second fragment (No. 10b) has a length of 175mm, with a width of 8.4mm across the wire and a thickness of 9.75mm. It weighs 66.86 grams.

11. Spiral twisted torc fragment (10)

A fragment of sub-circular in section spiral twisted copper alloy rod, probably from a torc or armring based upon the substantial nature of the rod. This fragment has a dark grey colour beneath moderately preserved soil.

Dimensions: The fragment measures 57.4mm in length, 7.8mm in width across the band, 8.2mm thick and weighs 22.74grams.

12. Spiral twisted armring fragment (11)

A fragment of copper alloy spiral twisted armring of Rowlands Type 3.C.3. The armring is convex and sub-hemispherical in plan and formed of a circular in section twisted wire. The wire is moderately substantial through the body, with the thickest point in the centre, and tapers towards one end. This armring appears a dark grey colour underneath the moderate soil, but is in good condition.

Dimensions: The fragment has a diameter of 79.6mm, with the diameter of the wire 8.6mm. It weighs 56.35 grams.

13. Penannular armring fragment (2)

A fragment of a small lozengical in section copper alloy penannular armring of Rowlands type 3.C.1 (a or b). This fragment is hemispherical in plan with the lozenge section maintaining a central ridge along both the interior and exterior surfaces. This fragment is dark green-grey in colour beneath slight corrosion and soil.

Dimensions: The fragment has a diameter of 60.3mm, with the rod measuring 6mm in width and 5.7mm in thickness. It weighs 13.4 grams.

14. Penannular armring fragment (3)

A fragment of a small lozengical in section copper alloy penannular arming of Rowlands type 3.C.1 (a or b). This fragment is hemispherical in plan with the lozenge section maintaining a central ridge along both the interior and exterior surfaces. This fragment is slightly narrower than the fragment above, and has additional hammering marks visible on the internal surface of the fragment; the exterior facetted surfaces are smooth. This artefact has a dark green grey colour and is in a good condition.

Dimensions: This fragment has a diameter of 63.2mm, with the band measuring 3.3mm in width and 3.8mm in thickness. It weighs 5.07 grams.

15. Penannular armring fragment (4)

A fragment of a small sub-lozengical in section copper alloy possible penannular armring of Rowlands type 3.C.1 (a or b). The fragment is hemispherical in plan and maintains a central ridge along the exterior surface, with the ridge on the internal surface slightly smoothed and flattened. This artefact has a dark grey-green colour overall.

Dimensions: This fragment has a diameter of 60.5mm, with the band measuring 6.4mm in width and 5.45mm in thickness. The fragment weighs 16.16 grams.

16. Penannular armring fragment (5)

A fragment of a small sub-lozengical in section copper alloy penannular arming of Rowlands type 3.C.1 (a or b). This fragment is convex in plan with the lozenge section maintaining a central ridge along both the interior and exterior surfaces. Additional hammering marks are visible on both internal and external surfaces. This artefact has a dark green grey colour and is in a good condition.

Dimensions: This fragment has a diameter of 61mm, with the band measuring 3.8mm in width and 3.4mm in thickness. It weighs 4.55grams.

17. Penannular armring fragment (8)

A fragment of a small lozengical in section copper alloy penannular arming of Rowlands Type 3.C.1 (a or b). This fragment is 'U' shaped in plan with the lozenge section maintaining a central ridge along both the interior and exterior surfaces. Additional hammering marks are visible on both internal and external surfaces. This artefact has a dark green grey colour and is in a good condition.

Dimensions: This fragment has a diameter of 54.05mm, with the diameter of the rod 4.1mm; it weighs 7.82 grams.

18. Bracelet fragment (6)

A fragment of a small rectangular in section copper alloy bracelet or armring. The fragment is convex in plan, with the exterior surface appearing rounded and convex. The fragment is extensively covered by soil, but appears a dark grey to brown copper colour.

Dimensions: The fragment measures 58.5mm in diameter in plan, with the diameter of the band measuring 6.2mm. It weighs 13.96 grams.

19. Bracelet fragment (7)

A fragment of a copper alloy bracelet or armring. The fragment has a sub-rectangular to 'D' shaped section, with a vertical interior and slightly convex exterior edge, and flattened upper and lower surfaces. The exterior edge of the fragment has been smoothed. This fragment is dark grey in colour beneath the soil, with traces of slight green corrosion product in the centre.

Dimensions: The fragment has a diameter of 70.65mm, with the width and thickness of the band 6.1mm. It weighs 25.49 grams.

20. ?Armring (?pennanular) fragment (16)

A sub-lozenical in section fragment of copper alloy, possibly from a penannular armring. It is worn and covered in a soil.

Dimensions: This fragment has a length of 9.3mm, with a width of 8.7mm and a thickness of 7mm. It weighs 1.95 grams.

21. ?Bracelet fragment (15)

A small fragment of copper alloy. It is probably circular in section, and is covered in soil with areas of green corrosion product.

Dimensions: This fragment has a length of 6.7mm, width of 5.4mm with a thickness of 5.25mm. It weighs 0.1 grams.

Tools

22. Awl/Tracer (18)

A near complete copper alloy awl or tracer. It is rectangular in plan and rectangular in section with an elliptical profile. One end of the artefact is narrowed and pointed with the other expanded in width and flattened to a sub-rectangular in plan 'chisel' form. This is slightly clipped. The awl has a dark grey colour overall beneath moderate soil.

Dimensions: This awl/tracer measures 135.2mm in length, with the width of the chisel end 5.3mm and measures 4.3mm thick. It weighs 14.52 grams.

23. Awl/Tracer (17)

An incomplete copper alloy possible awl or tracer. It is elongate in form with a flattened section to the wider end and a circular section at the narrowed tapered end; the central portion of the object appears to have a rectangular section. This awl has an elliptical profile. The wider flattened end has an irregular break suggesting prior continuation of the object. This object has a dark green grey colour beneath extensive soil.

Dimensions: This awl/tracer measures 61.2mm in length, with a width of 6.5mm at the widest point and a thickness of 3.5mm. It weighs 3.49 grams.

24. Tanged blade (19)

A fragment of a copper alloy single edged tanged blade with evidence of modification. The fragment is sub-oval in plan at the blade with a sub-rectangular in plan tang, with the tang rectangular in section. The blade is sub-oval in section with a flattened thicker upper edge, and a narrowed and fine cutting edge. The non-cutting edge is elliptical in profile. The blade appears to have been reworked, with the end of the blade blunted and curved in plan. Additional file marks can be seen on one side near to the edge of the blade, with traces of possible hammer marks on the surface (Andrew J. Lawson, pers. comm.). This fragment is dark grey in colour.

Dimensions: The fragment measures 75.6mm in length with a width of the blade 22.4mm and the width at the tang 11.4mm. It is 3.4mm thick and weighs 25.36 grams.

Other object types

25. Possible casting waste (26)

An uncertain globule of copper alloy, possibly representing casting waste. The fragment is formed of two conjoined circular forms with unworked surfaces. It has a light green grey colour overall.

Dimensions: This uncertain fragment measure 17.3mm in length, 13.55mm in width with a thickness of 3.4mm. It weighs 3.19 grams.

26. Whetstone (31)

A near complete whetstone of uncertain composition. It is rectangular in plan and rectangular in section, with an angled break to one end. At the opposing end is a circular aperture (measuring 5.6mm in diameter) which has bevelled internal edges. It has a light grey colour overall. Andrew Lawson has suggested that perforated whetstones are common within the Early Bronze Age, but less so within the Middle Bronze Age.

Dimensions: The whetstone measures 109.5mm in length, with a width of 33.5mm and a thickness of 15.15. It weighs 98.58 grams.

27. Wire fragment (14)

A fragment of copper alloy wire. It has a narrow sub-lozengical to circular section, and is concealed by extensive soil. This fragment appears to have a dark green grey colour.

Dimensions: This fragment has a length of 47.5mm, with the diameter of the wire 2.7mm. It weighs 1.88 grams.

28. Wire fragment (13)

A fragment of a circular in section copper alloy wire. It is sub-hemispherical in plan and tapers and narrows through the body to a slightly bent and broken terminal. It has a dark grey to copper colour overall.

Dimensions: This fragment has a diameter of 52.4mm with the diameter of the wire 2.3mm. It weighs 2.41 grams.

Found a short distance from 'Deposit 1'

29. Ribbed Bracelet (28)

A complete cast copper alloy ribbed bracelet of Rowlands type 3A. The bracelet is circular in plan, broad in profile and flat in section, with a flattened interior surface and a series of five evenly spaced ribs on the exterior surface. The central rib is more pronounced than the two either side of it, whilst the outer two ribs form parallel everted sides to the bracelet. Between the five ribs are four bands of transverse incised notches which are slightly irregular in spacing and size. The interior surface of the bracelet retains traces of the horizontal ribs. The bracelet is completed with one narrowed end passing beneath the other, with the exterior edge terminals formed from folding over the sheet copper alloy to square off the terminal. It has a dark grey colour overall and is in good condition. Similar items can be found in Rowlands (1976, 91-2) and Roberts (2007, 2, fig. 1, 9). The bracelet forms a pair with the other ribbed bracelet (No. 3). According to the finders this, more complete bracelet was found a short distance from the main concentration of 'Deposit 1'.

Dimensions: The bracelet measures 74.2mm in diameter, with a width of 22.1mm across the band and a thickness of 5.2mm. It weighs 84.73 grams.

'Deposit 2'

The second deposit/concentration of finds contains 19 fragments of 12 objects of Middle Bronze Age date including: 1 cast torc, 1 spiral twisted torc, 1 quoit headed pin, 2 annular armrings, 3 palstaves, 1 blade, 1 unidentified object and 2 armring fragments.

Ornaments

30. ?Cast Torc in five fragments (32-36)

Five worn fragments of a likely cast copper alloy torc with cast ridged detail. The five fragments form a sub-circular in plan torc and are sub-circular in section; three fragments are small with two larger fragments that form the central portion of the torc. The original terminals for the torc appear to be missing, as the two current end pieces both exhibit slanted, possibly modified irregular edges; it is possible that the original ends might once have been overlapped (Andrew Lawson, pers. comm.). Traces of the casting process are visible on the underside of the two larger fragments, with the casting seam appearing quite pronounced. The ridged detail is very fine and formed of narrow slightly raised ridges, with the ridging appearing finer than that of the spiral twisted torcs. These fragments have a light green to grey colour overall, with areas of slight corrosion.

Dimensions: The combined torc fragments have a diameter of 244mm, with the diameter of the individual fragments measuring 20.5mm. It weighs 1119.6g.

31. Spiral Twisted Torc in four fragments (37)

A complete copper alloy twisted torc formed from four separate fragments; two large hemispherical in plan fragments each retaining an integral hook, with two smaller central body fragments. The torc is sub-oval in plan and formed from a single twisted rod that is sub-circular in section. This rod has been twisted to produce fine regular ridges throughout the body of the torc, with a slight tapering in width to the narrowed outward facing hooks. These are sub-oval in section and appear flattened and smoothed in contrast to the body of the torc. Looped over one of the large fragments is a single oval in section rod of copper alloy. Each of the fragments appears dark grey in colour and of a good condition.

Note: According to the finders (verbal communication/site visit), some fragments of this torc were found a short distance away from deposit 2.

Dimensions: The combined torc fragments have a diameter of 240mm, with a diameter of the individual rod measuring 13.7mm. It weighs 494.5g.

32. Quoit headed pin (48)

A complete copper alloy Quoit headed pin. The pin head is sub-circular in plan and rectangular in section, with the pin body circular in section and the transition at the neck sub-rectangular. The pin head was possibly cast on or welded to the shank. The pin body tapers and narrows to a rounded point, with the lower portion of the body bent out of shape in prior damage. The pin head has raised flanges with a series of small linear incisions or 'nicks' around the both the interior and exterior circumferences. This artefact is in good condition. The head and pin appear to be different colours: the head loop is a lighter colour than the dark grey shank. This may be due to wear/polishing or the composition of the head and shank differing, perhaps for aesthetic reasons.

Dimensions: The Quoit headed pin measures 395mm in length, with a diameter across the sub-oval head of 118mm and a height of 113mm. The pin shank is 291mm long to the inside of the head and 285mm to the outside of the head loop is 6.8mm in thickness and the pin head 4.3mm in thickness. The width of the pin head is 7.5mm, the thickness is 4mm. It weighs 119.22 grams.

33. Annular armring (41)

A complete copper alloy annular armring of Rowlands type 3.D.1. It is sub-oval in plan and sub-'D' shaped in section with flattened interior surface. The arming appears to be formed from a solid copper alloy rod as a visible attachment seam is retained, which is clean and horizontal. To either side of the join are 4 small incised lines which only partially extend across the width of the armring. This armring has a dark green grey colour overall, and appears in good condition.

Dimensions: This armring has a diameter of 81.2mm, with a width across the band of 8.1mm and a thickness of 7.2mm. It weighs 79.69 grams.

34. Annular armring (42)

A complete copper alloy annular armring of Rowlands type 3.D.1. It is sub-oval in plan and sub-'D' shaped in section with flattened interior surface. The arming appears to be formed from a solid copper alloy rod as a visible attachment seam is retained, which is clean and horizontal. To either side of the join are 2 small incised lines. This armring has a dark green grey colour overall, although there are moderate areas of brown copper scratches, possibly of a more recent date.

Dimensions: This armring has a diameter of 79.4mm, with the width across the band 8.8mm and the thickness of the band 8mm. It weighs 98.27 grams.

35. Penannular armring fragment (40)

A fragment of a small lozengical in section copper alloy penannular armring of Rowlands type 3.C.1 (a or b). This fragment is hemispherical in plan with the lozenge section maintaining a central ridge along both the interior and exterior surfaces. The fragment tapers in width to one end and might retain traces of the original terminal due to the lack of break. This fragment is dark grey in colour.

Dimensions: This fragment measures 42.9mm in length, with a width across the band 3.8mm and a thickness of 3.4mm. The fragment weighs 2.03 grams.

36. Spiral twisted arming fragment (47)

A fragment of copper alloy spiral twisted armring of Rowlands Type 3.C.3. This fragment is formed of a circular in section twisted wire, which appears a dark grey colour underneath the moderate soil, but is in good condition.

Dimensions: This fragment measures 62.9mm in length, with a diameter of 4.9mm and weighs 7.1 grams.

Tools

37. Palstave (43)

A complete cast copper alloy palstave of Rowlands' Class 1: developed shield pattern type (cf. Schmidt & Burgess's Low-Flanged Palstaves of Type Wantage, 1981, nos. 801-8). The blade of the palstave is sub-triangular in plan with convex expanding sides and a convex cutting edge, measuring 65.8mm at the widest point. It is sub-triangular in profile, with the thickest section just below the stop ridge. The blade itself appears slightly asymmetric in profile, with one side more flattened than the other. Beneath the stop-ridge is a clear 'U' shaped depression within a slightly raised 'U' shaped ridge, which forms the 'shield' that characterises this type. At the upper point of this shield the palstave measures 23.5mm in thickness. From this shield, a single rectangular rib extends along the surface of the blade to terminate just above the blade facet. The rear part of the axe (from the stop ridge to the butt) is sub-rectangular in plan and has an 'H' shaped section across the septum and the raised flanges. These side flanges extend to a maximum height of 30.9mm. Further detail of the stop ridge and the septum is currently obscured by extensive chalky soil. The butt of the axe appears complete and is rectangular in section, measuring 22.7mm in width by 5.25mm thick.

The long edges of the axe remain unfinished, with remnants of the casting seem visible along the length of the palstave. On the long faces of the palstave, just below the stopridge and half-way down the shield detail are two distinct sub-rectangular lugs. These projections may have had a practical function in stopping movement of the haft or to further aid binding of the axe to the haft. Several linear striations are visible along the long edges of the palstave, which might indicate that filing of these edges was attempted. This artefact has a dark green-grey colour overall, with much of the surface concealed by compacted soil.

Dimensions: This palstave has a total length of 165mm, with a width across the blade of 65.8mm, and a thickness through the body of 23.5mm. It weighs 538.6g.

38. Palstave (44)

A complete cast copper alloy palstave. Most faces are obscured and this may mask diagnostic features, but it appears to belong to Rowland's Class 3, Group 2 (1976, 326-8), probably an unlooped Norman type (B. O'Connor pers comm.). The blade of the palstave is sub-triangular in plan with a convex cutting edge, measuring 47.2mm at the widest point. It is sub-triangular in profile, with the thickest section of the blade just below the stop ridge. The stop ridge itself is curved in plan, with a concave indentation towards the rear of the axe; however, further detail of the stopridge and septum are obscured by soil. The rear part of the axe (from the stop ridge to the butt) is sub-rectangular in plan, and tapers and narrows in width to the butt. This part of the palstave is sub-lozengical in profile with distinctive side flanges that extend to a maximum height of 30mm. The long edges of the axe remain unfinished, with remnants of the casting seem visible along the length of the palstave. This artefact has a light grey colour overall resulting from the extensive soil, with very little of the metal surface visible.

Dimensions: This palstave has a total length of 160mm, with a width across the blade of 47.2mm, a width of 27.7mm across the centre and a width of 17.7mm across the butt. It weighs 375.7g.

39. Palstave (45 - in 2 fragments)

A complete cast copper alloy palstave of Rowlands' Class 1: developed shield pattern type (cf. Schmidt & Burgess's Low-Flanged Palstaves of Type Wantage, 1981, nos. 801-8) in two separate fragments, with the break cutting across the shield detail on the palstave blade. The blade of the palstave is sub-triangular in plan with convex expanding sides and a convex cutting edge, measuring 64.7mm at the widest point. It is sub-triangular in profile, with the thickest section just below the stop ridge. Beneath the stop-ridge on both surfaces is a clear 'U' shaped depression within a slightly raised 'U' shaped ridge, which forms the 'shield' that characterises this type. Within this shield is a rectangular rib, which extends through the shield form and along the surface of the blade; the terminus of this rib is concealed by soil. At the central break, the palstave has a 'figure of 8' section. The rear part of the axe (from the stop ridge to the butt) is sub-rectangular in plan and has an 'H' shaped section across the septum and the raised flanges. These side flanges extend to a maximum height of 31.6mm. Further detail of the stop ridge and the septum is currently obscured by extensive soil. The long edges of the axe remain unfinished, with remnants of the casting seem visible along the length of both palstave fragments. This artefact has a dark green-grey colour overall, with much of the surface concealed by compacted soil.

Dimensions: The palstave fragments have a total length of 170mm, with a width of 22.7mm at the butt, 28.6mm across the central shield and stopridge and 64.7mm across the blade. This artefact exceeds 300 grams in weight.

40. Tanged knife (39)

A copper alloy tanged knife. The fragment has a rectangular section in the centre of the blade, producing a single flattened facet, with the exterior edges tapering diagonally to the cutting edge. These edges are blunted and the point of the blade is rounded, with a slight bend in the body of the blade visible in profile towards the tip. At the opposite end the blade narrows slightly to a rectangular in plan tang, which is flat in section. This artefact has a dark grey colour overall but fair condition beneath moderate soil coverage. This blade belongs to what Rowlands (1973, 47) has referred to as the 'late MBA indigenous knife type'. It is similar in form (especially the tang and tip) to a knife found within a Middle Bronze Age domestic setting at Chalton, Site 78 ('hut 1') in Hampshire, from which a palstave was also recovered (Cunliffe 1970).

Dimensions: This blade measures 183mm in length, 28.6mm in width and 4.3mm in thickness. It weighs 105.42 grams.

Other object types

41. Copper alloy ?ingot (38)

An unidentified dense copper alloy object, possibly recycled bronze waste. It is rectangular in plan and hemispherical in section with a flattened underside, and both ends have been broken and are now worn. The upper surface of this object is heavily corroded and concealed with a mid green grey colour overall. Andrew Lawson (pers. comm.) has suggested that this might represent a copper alloy ingot, unusual in this context.

Dimensions: This object measures 151.5mm in length, with a width of 31.3mm and a thickness of 13.3mm. It weighs 242.7g.

Non-associated finds

42. Miniature Axe

A complete copper alloy miniature socketed axe of probable late Iron Age to Roman date. The axe is sub-rectangular in plan and sub-oval in section, with a sub-triangular profile as the thickness of the axe tapers from the socket to the narrowed tip. To one side, a small circular aperture pierces the body of the axe. This axe has a mid-green colour and good overall condition. Miniature axes from Wiltshire, including the Wylye area, are well represented (Robinson 1995). This particular axe bears most likeness to Robinson's type IV, no. 25, fig. 3. Miniature socketed axes were also found in the Netherhampton/Salisbury hoard (British Museum: 1998, 0901.80 & 1998, 0901.44). More recent discoveries of miniature axes from Wiltshire, recorded through the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), include examples from Alton (PAS no. WILT-9E5024) and Winterbourne Bassett (PAS no. SUR-6194D4) (see Kiernan 2009, 118-19).

Dimensions: This axe measure 26mm in length, with a width of 10.5mm and weighs 7.78 grams.

Addendum

Further to the initial discovery and removal of the hoard on the 4th of November 2012, excavations were undertaken the following week by the Wiltshire Archaeology Field Group (Sanigar in prep). Once the findspot was located, it was noted that the hoard was found in a hilltop location, close to the River Wylye, which forms part of the River Avon catchment (Sanigar in prep). Hilltop and riverine locations are a feature of the landscape settings of other Middle Bronze Age ornament hoards (Roberts 2007, 146).

The aims of the excavation were to locate additional objects, identify features associated with the deposit and determine whether there was any stratigraphic link between the two archaeological features/deposits that held the objects from the hoard. Three trenches were opened (WH12 Trenches A-C) at the findspot and two cut, sub-circular, pits were identified. From the plans provided in Sanigar (in prep) these appear to have had dimensions: 0.5m by 0.5m (pit from Trench A) and 0.25m by 0.25m (pit from Trench B). They appear (from a site visit) to have been 2-3m apart.

No artefacts of any date were recovered during the excavation, nor were stratigraphic relationships identified between the two pits. The environmental analysis of material from one of the pits proved inclusive. Details of the analysis are as follows:

Environmental analysis (by Robin Holley)

Environmental samples (WH12, context B06) from a deposit in one of the pits were analysed by Robin Holley. The sample was taken from lower stratified horizon and scanned for the recovery and assessment of charred plant remains, charcoal, shell, small animal and fish bones.

The sample was processed by standard floatation methods, the float retained on a 0.25mm (250 micron sieve) mesh. All the samples were then wet sieved to the following fractions 5mm, 2mm and 0.5mm and dried. The coarse fractions were sorted into type and bagged separately.

The flots were scanned under an x10 - x40 stereo-binocular microscopes and the presence of charred remains examined. The findings were as follows:

Charred Plant Remains

Assessment of the material from the floatation process showed that it contained amounts of charred plant remains. Findings consisted of a mixed deposit of charred macrofossils also present were fragments of unidentifiable charcoal, bark, and monocotyledon root material.

Residue

From the residue there were pieces of flint, one showing signs of flakes being struck off, four tiny fragments of Copper Alloy and a circular Copper Alloy object, which could be the remains of a Roman coin.

Discussion

The samples were of some bio-archaeological interest. The small amount of charred material recovered indicates that there is potential for the preservation of larger amounts of larger bio-archaeological remains on this site. Whether these are the remains of a woven basket or bag which the Bronze objects were carried is problematic and not proven.

Discussion

Most of the objects from the 'Wylye hoard' are in very good condition and represent a significant addition to the corpus of 'Ornament Horizon' hoards from Southern England (cf. Smith 1959; Roberts 2007). They can be dated typologically to the Middle Bronze Age (c.1500-1100 BC). This date range can be further explained and refined in terms of specific artefact types (Needham 1996). The two Class 1, developed shield pattern type palstaves are relatively early types (c.1500-1300 BC). The ornaments belong to the so-called 'Ornament Horizon' of the early Taunton and later Penard metalwork phases in England and Wales (c.1400-1150 BC) (Smith 1959; Roberts 2007). It is therefore possible to argue that the hoard belongs to the earlier centuries of the Middle Bronze Age, c.1400-1250 BC. The dating of the Wylye hoard to the early/middle centuries of the Middle Bronze Age is consistent with Roberts' (2007) suggestion that 'all-bronze' hoards (i.e. consisting exclusively of copper alloy objects) are generally likely to be earlier than gold and gold/bronze 'Ornament Horizon'.

The combination of ornaments, tools and other elements and metalworking waste in the Wylye hoard is comparable to other large and 'complex' ornament hoards from Southern Britain (Rowlands 1976, 99-114; cf. Roberts 2007, 147-8). The overall composition of the ornaments within the Wylye hoard is generally typical of 'Ornament Horizon' hoards: dominated by armrings and bracelets (c.58%), with a considerable proportion of torcs (29%), and rings (c.10%), and pins (3%) occurring in smaller numbers (cf. Roberts 2007, 139). However, the variety of particular ornament types contained within the Wylye hoard is notable.

Although the fragmentary nature of some objects makes comparison of hoard size (and quality) difficult, the c.29 ornaments from the Wylye hoard makes it one of the largest 'complex' hoards discovered, comparable to Taunton Union Workhouse, Somerset (c.33 ornaments) and the recently discovered 'near Lewes' hoard (c.28 ornaments). The overall size of the hoard (including 'tools' and 'other/unidentified' objects) is also comparable: 43 compared to c.51 and c.53 objects respectively.

In terms of composition, the closest parallels among the large, 'complex' hoards are from Somerset (the Monkswood Hoard and the Taunton Workhouse Hoard) and Norfolk (the Barton Bendish hoard). Five of the six ornament types found in the Monkswood hoard, four of the five ornament types in the Taunton hoard, and five of the five ornament types found in the Barton Bendish hoard are paralleled in the Wylye hoard. All four of these comparable 'complex' hoards combine ornaments and tools.

Several ribbed bracelets are known from ornament hoards in Wiltshire (Roberts 2007, nos. 66-7), including South Lodge Camp, Wiltshire, from an assemblage that also included an awl (O'Connor 1991, 234, no. 33). A similarly shaped and decorated ribbed bracelet occurs within the Edington Burtle hoard from Wiltshire (Smith 1959, GB. 44 2, 4).

The cast torc is difficult to parallel. Rowlands (1976: 90) notes the occurrence of cast torcs and suggests they are a far less common find than the spiral twisted copper alloy torc. Butler (1963, 139-40, 142) lists four examples of Middle Bronze Age cast torcs from England, three from Somerset and one from Wiltshire. The example from Ebbesbourne Wake, Elcombe Down, Wiltshire, like the Wylye torc weighs over 1kg and has a similar diameter (Moore & Rowlands 1972, 63-5, no. 75). It was also associated with annular and penannular bracelets. A further parallel may be the gold bar torc from the British Museum collection (1873, 0212.1) - details of production, which was subject to scientific examination in 2010 (CSR AR2010/61) and produced interesting results regarding how the spiral decoration was achieved.

There is evidence for re-cycling, repair and intentional breakage among the objects of the Wylye hoard (cf. Roberts 2007, 148), and this is a feature it shares with other Middle Bronze Age Ornament Horizon hoards. This is demonstrated by the fragmentary condition of all the torcs in the hoard, despite the robust character of some (e.g. the cast torc, No. 30), although more work needs to be done to demonstrate the intentionality of this damage. One of the torcs appears to have been repaired (No. 10), and the repair coincides with the point of maximum stress, when torcs was being put on and taken off. Roberts (2007, 148) has noted evidence for repair in other ornament hoards and it reflects the age and 'biographies' of some objects prior to deposition (ibid.).

Quoit-headed pins are a relatively rare type (Lawson 1979; Roberts 2007), and the Wylye example is one of only a small number of exceptionally large pins with flanged edges. Most of the other examples of this group are from Norfolk (Lawson 1979, 122), including an example from the 'complex' Barton Bendish hoard, which comprised of a similar range of objects to the Wylye hoard (Table 1; Smith 1959, GB 7: 2).

The quoit-headed pin and two ribbed bracelets are the only decorated objects in the hoard. The similarity between the technique and positioning of the 'nicked' decoration suggests that they formed a 'set'. To the authors knowledge this represents the first instance of such a grouping of pin and ribbed bracelets. The aforementioned ribbed bracelet from the Edington hoard was also part of a 'set' of ornaments, occurring with a finger ring of a similar form (Smith1959, GB. 44 2, 4). The 'looping' of rings and armlet/bracelets around other torcs in the assemblage is also consistent with the notion of artefact/ornament 'sets' and deserves additional attention through future research. There are several examples of objects looped over one another within ornament 'horizon' hoards (cf. Smith 1959, GB 44, 2, nos. 6-8; Roberts 2007, 147-8). The most striking parallel is from the Hollingbury Hill hoard, near Brighton (Sussex), which also contained three rings looped over a spiral twisted torc fragment (Arch J 1848, 324-5, pl.).

Lawson (1979, 124) has noted that flanges are a feature exclusive to the pins of Norfolk and that 'nicked' decoration (and head/loop decoration more generally) are features of Eastern English quoit-headed pins. Notable comparanda that carry both features include the pin from East Den, Sussex (British Museum: 1937, 7-16.3), Boughton Fen, Norfolk (Lawson 1979; British Museum: P1964, 12-1.26) and Hammersmith (River Thames), Greater London (Museum of London: A17960). The Wylye quoit-headed pin therefore demonstrates connections between Wiltshire and Eastern England. Indeed, 'nicked' decoration is a feature of Sussex Loops (Lawson 1979, fn 7; e.g. Blackrock: Piggott 1949), the other local/'insular' artefact type of the Ornament hoard 'horizon'. As noted above, the same decoration is also a feature of the two ribbed bracelets from the Wylye hoard. It is therefore possible that the quoit-headed pin and bracelets are imports from eastern England.

The use wear and slight distortion of the quoit-headed pin is of interest: both sides of the circular head have been pushed inwards, creating a gentle 'U' shaped profile at either side. The end of the pin shaft has also been bent and has an inverted 'U' shaped profile relative to the head. Other quoit-headed pins show similar distortion, especially to the lower shank, which is probably related to the way they were worn prior to deposition (Lawson 1979, 121).

Unlike the recently discovered 'Near Lewes' hoard (2011 T192), which combined 'insular' and rare Continental objects and practices, the Wylye hoard was primarily composed of finds that are local and common in southern England (e.g. the quoit headed pin and spiral twisted ornaments). The hoard does, however, reflect inter-regional connections and/or trade within Southern England.

Finally, in the case of the miniature socketed axe, Robinson (1995, 60) notes that some axes of this type are apparent copies of Late Bronze Age socketed axes. However, they may also date to the Iron Age and Roman period (ibid., 60-1). While socketed axes a small number of socket axes are of Middle Bronze Age date (Rowlands 1976, 41-3), on the balance of probabilities, based on information on the position the outlying position of the miniature axe relative to the rest of the hoard (verbal communication), it does not form part of the Wylye hoard and does not qualify as Treasure.

Conclusion

With the exception of the miniature copper alloy axe (No. 42), which is probably of a later date and was not closely associated with the find-spot of the other objects, the objects listed above belong to a single or possibly two very closely related deposits, dating to the Middle Bronze Age, and, on the balance of probabilities should be treated as a single find of more than two objects of prehistoric copper alloy. Consequently they qualify as Treasure under the Treasure Act 1996 (Designation Order 2002).

References

Butler, J.J. 1963, 'Bronze Age connections across the sea', Palaeohistoria 9, 1-286

Cunliffe, B. 1970, 'A Bronze Age Settlement at Chalton Hants (Site 78)', The Antiquaries Journal, L, Part 1, 1-13

Kiernan, P. 2009, Miniature votive offerings in the north-west provinces of the Roman Empire Mentor (Möhnesee, Germany)

Lawson, A.J. 1979, 'Two Quoit-Headed pins in the British Museum', Antiquaries Journal, LIX (1979), 121-27

Moore, C., & Rowlands, M. 1972, Bronze Age Metalwork in Salisbury Museum, Salisbury: Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum

O'Connor, B. 1991, 'Bronze Age Metalwork from Cranborne Chase: A Catalogue', In Barrett, J., Bradley, R., & Hall, M. (eds.), Papers on the Prehistoric Archaeology of Cranborne Chase, Oxford: Oxbow Monograph 11, 231-41

Piggott, C.M. 1949, 'A Late Bronze Age Hoard from Blackrock in Sussex and its Significance', Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, N.S. XV, 107-21

Roberts, B. 2007. 'Adoring the Living but Not the Dead: Understanding Ornaments in Britain c. 1400-1100 cal BC' in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 73, 1-32

Robinson, P. 1995, 'Miniature Socketed Bronze Axes from Wiltshire', Wiltshire Archaeological Magazine, 88 (1995), 60-8

Rowlands, MJ. 1976, The Production and Distribution of Metalwork in the Middle Bronze Age in Southern Britain, British Archaeological Reports 31 (i-ii), Oxford

Sanigar, J. In prep, 'The Wylye Hoard. Excavation report'

Smith, M. 1959, 'Middle Bronze Age Hoards from Southern England', Inventaria Archaeologica, London: Garraway Ltd.

Authors:

Lucy Ellis, (formerly) Finds Liaison Assistant for Wiltshire and Hampshire, (currently) Assistant Treasure Registrar, The British Museum

Richard Henry, Finds Liaison Officer

Robin Holley, Environmental analysis for Wiltshire Archaeology Field Group

Andrew J. Lawson, Bronze Age specialist

Peter Reavill, Finds Liaison Officer

Ben Roberts, Durham University

Jonathan Sanigar, Wiltshire Archaeology Field Group

Neil Wilkin, Curator for the European Bronze Age, The British Museum

With thanks to Dr Brendan O'Connor

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Acquired by Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Acquired by museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2012T786

Chronology

Broad period: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod from: Middle
Period from: BRONZE AGE
Period to: BRONZE AGE
Date from: Circa 1400 BC
Date to: Circa 1300 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 41

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Sunday 4th November 2012

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Miss Lucy Ellis
Identified by: Miss Lucy Ellis
Secondary identifier: Dr Neil Wilkin

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2012T786

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Codford

Spatial coordinates


Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 10 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: Acquired by Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: WILT
Created: 5 years ago
Updated: 12 months ago

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