LANCUM-4118A0: Late Bronze Age hoard

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
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Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

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Unique ID: LANCUM-4118A0

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

A hoard of eight artefacts: two socketed axes, one large spearhead (in two fragments), two small flat chisels (which were discovered in socketed axe 2), a rapier blade fragment inside a hollow-head spearhead (which was discovered in socketed axe 1), a chape fragment (in two fragments).


Note: Catalogue completed before conservation work undertaken.

The objects were not cleaned or treated by the finder. For more details on the absolute chronologies of metalwork assemblage phases see Needham et al. 1997.

1. Socketed axe (1)

Measurements: Length: 90.5mm; Width (blade): 53.5mm; Socket (inner-outer): 33-41.1mm; Socket (back-front, inner-outer): 30.5- 41mm; Weight: 272g.

Description: Complete cast copper-alloy looped socketed axe. The axe is complete with a sub-rectangular mouth moulding and a small loop at the side. The casting seams were smoothed down and the axe was sharpened. Obverse and reverse surfaces, however, are rough and flaky and only little of the original surface survives. It has a flattish mouth moulding and a very thin band-like moulding about 1cm beneath. At the time of discovery, a spearhead fragment was lodged diagonally in the socket of the axe (scratched on the inside of the socket indicate position): See below, no. 2.

Type: Even though there is a resemblance to Type Everthorpe axes the distinct moulding around the opening of the socket suggests a more westerly, possibly Irish type, such as Types Dowris, Variant Kilkerran or Variant Dungiven (Schmidt and Burgess 1981, Plate 81, nos. 1191A-1199).

Date: Late Bronze Age Ewart Park metalwork assemblage, c. 1000-800BC

2. Spearhead fragment

Measurements: Length: 39mm; Width (blade): 34mm; Thickness: 9mm; Weight (includes rapier fragment no. 3): 45.8g.

Description: Very worn fragment of a spearhead with a hollow head. Bevelled edges. Surface flaky and rough, extremely worn. Cross-section is diamond-shaped; fragment shows distinct midrib.

Type: Hollow blade spearhead

Discussion: Hollow blade spearheads are mainly from South East England and the Upper Severn Basin. There are 72 in Davis' catalogue, but only three of these come from Northern England and two from Scotland. They are mainly from the earliest phase of the Late Bronze Age, being present in the Wilburton, Isleham and Guilsfield hoards. There are a number of examples of broken artefacts rammed in the socket of spearheads and axes (Davis 2012; Davis pers comm).

Date: Late Bronze Age Wilburton Metalwork assemblage, c. 1100-900BC

3. Rapier/dirk blade fragment (?)

Measurements: Length: 38mm; Width (blade): 15mm; Thickness: 6mm; Weight (includes spearhead fragment no. 2): 45.8g.

Description: Blade fragment with bevelled edges, which is stuck in the hollow blade spearhead (no. 2), so further identification and description currently not possible.

Type: This is possibly the very end/tip of a sword or, more likely, a rapier or dirk blade fragment.

Date: Probably Middle Bronze Age or early Late Bronze Age, that is c. 1500/1400-1000BC

4. Socketed axe (2)

Measurements: Length: 88.1mm; Width (blade): 45mm; Socket (inner-outer): 25-32mm; Socket (back-front, inner-outer): 23.5-30.5mm; Weight: 131g.

Description: Complete cast copper alloy socketed looped axe. The axe is in good condition with much of the original surface still surviving. The axe has an oval/slightly sub-rectangular mouth with a thin upper mouth moulding and another thin moulding about 8mm below. There are two cast ovoid indentations, on each side. The casting seams have been removed and the axe was sharpened, but the surface of the axe is too worn to detect any signs of wear and resharpening. Two small chisels (nos. 5 and 6) were inside the socket.

Type: Late Bronze Age socketed axe of Type Ulleskelf (Schmidt and Burgess 1981, Plate 71-72, nos. 1010-1013).

Date: Late Bronze Age Wilburton metalwork assemblage, ca. 1100-900BC.

5. Tanged chisel

Measurements: Length: 48.5mm; Width: 7mm; Thickness: 2mm; Weight: 3.86g

Description: Small complete cast copper alloy tanged chisel/wood-working tool. No collar. Rectangular cross-section. Surface very worn.

Date: Probably Middle Bronze Age or Late Bronze Age, that is 1500/1400 - 800BC.

6. Tanged chisel

Measurements: Length: 45.5mm; Width: 8mm; Thickness: 2.5mm; Weight: 4.74g

Description: Small incomplete cast copper alloy tanged chisel/wood-working tool. No collar. Rectangular cross-section. Small piece/corner of blade broken off.

Date: Probably Middle Bronze Age or Late Bronze Age, that is 1500/1400 - 800BC.

7. Spearhead (in two fragments)

Measurements: Length: 133.3mm; Width: 51mm; Diameter (socket): 26mm; Thickness: 1.5mm; Weight: 314g (both fragments)

Description: Cast copper alloy socketed leaf-shaped spearhead with filled-defined midrib. It survives in two fragments: one larger body and a smaller tip fragment. The surface is rough and it looks and feels worn. However, overall it is in good condition. The blade is leaf- or flame-shaped with slightly bevelled edges. At the break, the body is slightly bent. The socket has two rivet holes suggested that the spearhead was pegged, but the socket is still filled with soil and we cannot say if the rivet or fragments of it are still in place. The large midrib is defined by a fillet-moulding on either side, which ends just below the rivet holes. After the casting and cooling process, the edges of the fillet were decorated with short, parallel incised lines giving the casting a rope-like appearance.

Type: Leaf-shaped spearhead with filled-defined midrib.

Discussion: Davis studied 110 fillet defined spearheads and only one them was found in from Cumbria (Dalton-in-Furness) (Davis in prep). There are three sub-groups of fillet-defined spearheads and Davis suggests that the spearhead from Rampside belongs to the first group, where the fillet extend onto the socket with a short "fillet plate", while the single find from Dalton-in-Furness with a longer fillet plate belongs to the second sub-group. In the third sub-group, the fillets end at the base of the blade. The Rampside spearhead has incised decoration on the side of the fillets and plates. This is present on just four other spearheads in the group. The distribution is mainly in the South East, and there are some in East Scotland and the Upper Severn Basin. In Northern England, they are present in the Bilton (North Yorkshire), Heathery Burn (Durham) and Eastgate (Durham) hoards.

Date: In the South East, they are dated by hoard association to the earlier part of the Late Bronze Age, and are present in both the Wilburton and Blackmoor hoards. In Scotland and the North, they are dated to the Ewart Park metalworking phase, that is c. 1000-800BC.

8. Sword chape fragment

Measurements: Length: 48.5mm; Width: 14mm; Height: 9mm; Thickness: 1.5mm; Weight: 9.21g (both fragments)

Description: Two fragments of a cast copper alloy scabbard chape, very worn. Only bottom tip survives. The chape was hollow and its cross-section diamond-shaped. It has a flat, rounded bottom and a moulded rib on obverse and reverse. The surfaces are very worn.

Type: Late Bronze Age Wilburton metalwork assemblage, that is ca. 1100-1000BC


This second Late Bronze Age hoard from Rampside (first one recorded as LANCUM-428850, Treasure Number 2013T958) is a small assemblage of eight artefacts. The large fillet-defined spearhead is complete but comes in two fragments: the edges along the break are rough and the body of the spearhead is slightly bent. It looks as if it was purposefully bent and the tip broken off before deposition. The Wilburton sword chape survives only incomplete. It was also broken in two pieces, but the edge wear suggests that the breaks were old. The hoard also included two socketed axes: one undecorated socketed looped axe, probably of Type Dowris, Variant Dungiven (Schmidt and Burgess 1981, 201-202, nos. 1191-1199, Plate 81) and a decorated socketed looped axe of Type Ulleskelf (Schmidt and Burgess 1981, 178-179, nos. 1010-1013, Plate 71-72). Socketed axes of Type Ulleskelf are rare; only four examples are known from the North of England and we know of none from Scotland. Two of the four known examples have much more pronounced indentations at the waist and are decorated with incised decoration (Schmidt and Burgess 1981, nos. 1010-1011). The other two known examples only have the characteristic indented waist and simple mouth mouldings (Schmidt and Burgess 1981, nos. 1112-1113), like our example from Rampside II. The axe from Rampside II is most strongly related to Schmidt and Burgess no. 1113, a find from the River Ribble in Lancashire with whom it shares the lack of the horizontal moulding across the body and the small number of mouth mouldings. The two more simplistic Ulleskelf Type axes were associated with a palstave, a socketed gouge and a socketed axe of Type Fulford (Schmidt and Burgess 1981, 161, no. 920 and 995). This is an imported association given that there was also a Fulford Type socketed axe in the first hoard discovered from Rampside, (2013T958).

The other axe from Rampside II has fewer defining features, but its less slender and generally more baggy shape suggests an Irish connection. Axes of Dowris Type have a stronger distribution in Scotland and are so far unknown from North West England, except for the axe discovered in the other hoard from Rampside (2013T958).

There were smaller items of metalwork inside both axes' sockets: two small wood-working tools, possibly chisels, inside the Ulleskelf Type axe and a probable rapier/dirk blade fragment inside the Dowris Type axe. The rapier/dirk blade fragment could not be further identified because it is firmly jammed inside a small fragment of a hollow-blade spearhead. The spearhead fragment was jammed into the socketed of the axe diagonally, as scratch marks on the inside of the axe socket show. Small items of metalwork are often found inside sockets of socketed axes, e.g. at Boyton, Suffolk, or Figheldean Down, Wiltshire (Burgess 1979, 269-279; Burgess and Colquhoun 1988, no. 734; Huth 1997, 275; Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum, Annual Report, 1971-72, 16, Plate 1A; Wiltshire Archaeological Register for 1971, 1972, 171; Coombs 1979, 253-268). This was either for the possible safe-keeping of smaller items of bronze, perhaps for recycling, or else, if it was a votive deposition, to render the axe useless, because it would now no longer be possible to haft it. The latter seems more likely in this case, as the spearhead from Rampside II shows signs of ritual destruction: it was bent until the tip snapped off, which is suggested by the break and the slight curve in the upper part of the head.


Thus, in light of the artefacts in this hoard, a Late Bronze Age date for the deposition of the hoard can be put forward, that is c. 1000-800BC. Thus, the hoard from Rampside, Cumbria, known as Rampside II, qualifies as Treasure under the Amendment to the Treasure Act of 1996 (Category 2) which stipulates that any group of two or more metallic objects of any composition of any prehistoric date that come from the same find and found after 1 January 2003, qualify as Treasure under the Treasure Act.

The landowner kindly waived his right to a reward in this case, allowing the Dock Museum to acquire the hoard at reduced expense.

Subsequent actions

Current location of find: Dock Museum
Subsequent action after recording: Donated to museum after being declared Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2014T205


Broad period: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod to: Late
Period to: BRONZE AGE
Date from: Circa 800 BC
Date to: Circa 1000 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 4

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 26th March 2014

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Dr Dot Boughton
Identified by: Dr Dot Boughton

Other reference numbers

Other reference: 50 Finds from Cumbria
Treasure case number: 2014T205

Materials and construction

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

Spatial metadata

Region: North West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Cumbria (County)
District: Barrow-in-Furness (District)
To be known as: Roosecote

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: Centred on field
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
Current location: Dock Museum
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Minimal cultivation

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: LANCUM
Created: 5 years ago
Updated: 3 years ago

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