DOR-92F9B4: Middle bronze Age axe hoard (sample of finds)

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HOARD

Unique ID: DOR-92F9B4

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A group of twelve palstaves in varying states of completeness (two are in two fragments) but all in a poor condition, possibly owing to their findspot environment being saline. The expanded and corroded nature of the finds in their current condition means that the measurements given below are at a considerable remove from their original condition/form and cannot be used in detailed metric analyses without extreme caution.

Note: Thickness measurements are across the widest point (i.e. from bar stop to bar stop).

1. Looped palstave with narrow blade. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection.

Type:Looped Norman type

Dimensions: Length: 144mm; Width (cutting blade): 42mm; Width (butt): 17mm; Width (max, across septum): 30mm; Breadth (max at stop): 33mm; Weight: 324g

2. Looped palstave with narrow blade. Missing its loop and the butt end of the palstave. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection.

Type:Looped Norman type

Dimensions: Length: 135mm (incomplete); Width (cutting blade): 40mm; Width (butt/broken end): 33; Width (max, across septum): 35mm; Breadth (max at stop): 30.5mm; Weight: 351.4g

3. ?Looped palstave with narrow blade. Missing its loop and butt end of the palstave. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection.

Dimensions: Length: 145mm (incomplete); Width (cutting blade): 28mm; Width (butt/broken end): 25mm; Width (max, across septum): 35mm; Breadth (max at stop, incomplete): 25mm; Weight: 210.87g

Type: ?Looped Norman type

4. Palstave with narrow blade. Apparently loopless but the palstave is in too poor a condition to be certain. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection.

Type: Breton type

Dimensions: Length: 158mm; Width (cutting blade): 38mm; Width (butt/broken end): 25mm; Width (max, across septum): 36mm; Breadth (max at stop): 33mm

5. Palstave with narrow blade. Apparently loopless but the palstave is in too poor a condition to be certain. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection.

Type: ?Breton type

Dimensions: Length: 150mm; Width (blade): too damaged; Width (butt): too damaged; Width (max, across septum): 37mm; Breadth (max at stop): 33mm

6. Palstave with narrow blade. Apparently loopless but the palstave is in too poor a condition to be certain. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Untreated and covered in bronze disease that gives the surface a bright green colouring. The palstave was broken in antiquity and is missing the butt end but has also been broken in recent times and is in two re-fitting fragments (a-b, below).

Type: Breton type

Dimensions: Length (fragments a and b refitted): 127mm; Width (blade): 24.5mm; Width (butt): 24; Width (max, across septum): 22mm; Breadth (max at stop): 20.5mm; Weight: (fragment a, blade end): 75.91g; (fragment b, butt end): 116.78g

7. Palstave with narrow blade. Apparently loopless but the palstave is in too poor a condition to be certain. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection.

Type: Breton type

Dimensions: Length: 149mm; Width (cutting blade): 29mm; Width (butt): 24mm; Width (max, across septum): 24mm; Breadth (max at stop): 26mm; Weight: 250.71g

8. Palstave with mid-rib. Apparently loopless but the palstave is in too poor a condition to be certain. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection.

Type: British

Dimensions: Length: 152mm; Width (cutting blade): 47mm; Width (butt end/break): 18.5mm; Width (max, across septum, broken/partial): 31mm; Breadth (max at stop): 30mm; Weight: 356g

9. Palstave fragment. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection. Only the blade section survives and is in poor condition/broken. In two fragments (a and b, below).

Type: Uncertain

Dimensions: Length: 90mm; Width: 35mm, otherwise too broken and corroded to take useful measurements; Weight: 45.83g (fragment a); 38.88g (fragment b)

10. Palstave fragment. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection. May refit with No. 11.

Type: Uncertain

Dimensions: Length: 93mm; Width: 36mm, otherwise too broken and corroded to take useful measurements; Weight: 211.97g

11. Palstave fragment. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection. May refit with No. 10.

Type: Uncertain

Dimensions: Length: 64mm; otherwise too broken and corroded to take useful measurements; Weight:62.71g

12. Palstave fragment. Poor, corroded, condition, dark brown patina with green patches. Treated/consolidated (including wax) prior to inspection.

Type: Uncertain

Dimensions: Length: 57mm; otherwise too broken and corroded to take useful measurements; Weight: 59.45g

Discussion: This group of palstaves represents an important addition to the Middle Bronze Age hoards from coastal areas in Britain and the near Continent (see Needham et al. 2013, Ch. 4). Three or four of the palstaves are of Breton type and two or three are of Norman type, with only one recognisable as a British type. The closest parallel for this find is the Marnhull hoard, Dorset, where 90 palstaves were recovered (25 of Breton type and the majority of the remainder of Norman type) (Lawson & Farwell 1991; cf. O'Connor 2009, 274-5). O'Connor suggests that these palstaves originated in Lower Normandy (Ibid., 274). Breton and Norman type palstaves were also found together at Hayling Beach, Hampshire in gravel (and therefore possibly redeposited from elsewhere; see Ibid. for details and references) and from Easton, Hampshire (Ibid.). It is likely that the Continental palstave types from the 'Portsmouth area' hoard were also imports and therefore form an important additional find.

The uncertain origins of this hoard make it difficult to establish how the objects were deposited. However, the unusually degraded condition and quality of the patina of the palstaves described above (Nos. 1-12), combined with their unusual typology (primarily imports of Breton and Normandy types from France) make it highly probable that they were deposited together as a single deposit.

Conclusion: As a find of two or more objects of copper alloy, this find qualifies a Treasure under the stipulations of the Treasure Act (1996) (Designation Order 2002).

Bibliography

Lawson, A.J. & Farwell, D.E. 1991. 'Archaeological Investigation Following the Discovery of a Hoard of Palstaves Near new Inn Farmhouse, Marnhull, Dorset', Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society 112, 131-8

Needham, S., Parham, D., & Frieman, C. 2013. Claimed by the Sea: Salcombe, Langdon Bay, and other marine finds of the Bronze Age. CBA Research Report 173, Council for British Archaeology

O'Connor, B. 2009. 'Bronze Age Metalwork' In Ladle, L. and Woodward, A. (eds.) Excavations at Bestwall Quarry, Wareham 1992 - 2005, Volume 1: The Prehistoric Landscape, 272-5

Neil Wilkin, Curator

The British Museum

24.1.17

Updated: 14.6.18

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Submitted for consideration as Treasure

Treasure details

Treasure case tracking number: 2015T762

Chronology

Broad period: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod from: Middle
Period from: BRONZE AGE
Subperiod to: Middle
Period to: BRONZE AGE
Date from: Circa 1600 BC
Date to: Circa 1000 BC

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 12

Personal details

Recorded by: Ms Ciorstaidh Hayward Trevarthen
Identified by: Dr Neil Wilkin

Other reference numbers

Treasure case number: 2015T762

Materials and construction

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

Spatial metadata


County or Unitary authority: City of Portsmouth (Unitary Authority)
District: City of Portsmouth (Unitary Authority)

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: DOR
Created: About one month ago
Updated: About one month ago

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