Two ‘jaw dropping’ Bronze Age hoards were discovered in Lancashire, and DigVentures had the opportunity to investigate both sites.
Until now, there has been relatively little evidence about the people who lived in North West England during the Bronze Age. But chance discoveries by amateur metal detectorists are changing what we know about the region in the Bronze Age, which is poorly understood and researched compared to the rest of the UK.
The Morecambe Hoard contains spearheads, axes, bracelets, arm rings, a chisel, a pair of ornaments and a Bronze Age flower. The Lancaster Hoard is even more impressive – and was found just a few miles away from our barrow site.
In 2016 and 2017, we crowdfunded excavations at the site of the Morecambe and Lancaster Hoards. With help from our crowdfunders and some of the best Bronze Age experts in the country, we discovered that the hill where the Morecambe Hoard was found was actually a large Bronze Age burial mound.
Our team made a string of remarkable discoveries, including that the mound may originally have been bright white and taken the form of a ring-cairn. The artefacts showed that visitors had brought large chunks of jet, quartz and rock crystal with them, and even flint from as far away as Scotland. An intact, beautifully decorated, rare Early Bronze Age (2200 – 1600 BC) funerary urn was also found, which is now undergoing further research.
The dig in 2017 was equally successful, with evidence found that pushed the origins of the mound back into the Neolithic: a pit containing charred material, and an absolutely stunning polished Langdale Tuff axe head. An additional urn was found, badly damaged by ploughing – however this urn was accompanied by a rare, small accessory urn.
The Lancaster Hoard
The Lancaster Hoard has been called the ‘most spectacular collection of Bronze Age artefacts ever discovered in North West England’. It was discovered just a few miles from our barrow site in Morecambe.
The hoard is a collection 16 bronze artefacts, including five socketed axes, three spearheads, two bracelets, four armrings, and two horse harness rings. The particular style of the axeheads and spearheads suggests that they are about 3,000 years old, and were made during the Late Bronze Age between 1,000-800BC.
Post-excavation research is still in process, and already we have added a huge amount of knowledge to understanding of the North West in the Bronze Age.
The Pop Up Museums
Both the Morecambe and Lancaster Hoards are still active Treasure cases with the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
As a result of continued threats to the sites where the hoards were found, including nighthawking, we kept the exact locations of the excavations limited to the dig team only.
In order to increase access to our work and include as many people as possible in the excitement of the excavations, we hosted accessible Pop Up Museums at city-centre locations, combined with online Virtual Museums with in-depth information about the artefacts.
The Morecambe and Lancaster Hoards were both on display for the first time ever as a part of our projects.