A Bronze Age ceremonial dagger used by a farmer as a doorstop for the last 12 years has been bought by a museum for £39,000.

The 27 inch blade is thought to be around 3,500 years old and is only the second of its kind found in the UK and the sixth in the whole of Europe, the Mirror reported.

The dagger was ploughed up in a field in East Rudham, Norfolk by a farmer in 2002, but he was unaware of its “incredible importance”. He took it into his house to keep it out of the way of his machinery, where he kept it for more than a decade and even used it to prop open his office door.

According to the Mirror, it was almost thrown out, before a friend said he should get it checked out by archaeologists. The blade, dubbed the Rudham Dirk, was then examined by Norfolk’s Portable Antiquities Scheme and was bought from the owner in a private deal for nearly £41,000, including a grant of £39,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund. It is now on display at the Norwich Castle museum.

Dr Tim Pestell, senior curator of archaeology at Norwich Castle, said similar daggers have been discovered in Europe, including one in Oxenburgh in England, two in France and two in the Netherlands, and that the discovery will help shed more light on Middle Bronze Age history.

“We are delighted to have secured such an important and rare find as this, which provides us with insights into the beliefs and contacts of people at the dawn of metalworking,” he said. “It is amazing that it has been used as a doorstep, but there are an awful lot of similar objects that are found just lying around.”

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