Two Bronze Age hoards, discovered c.25 miles apart by metal-detectorists in south-east Wales, have been declared Treasure by the Assistant Coroner for Gwent.
The larger of the two hoards (above) – comprising fragments of seven socketed axes, a piece of sword-blade, two ingots, and six casting jets (excess reservoirs of metal formed during the bronze-casting process) – was found by Wayne Williams within a field in Grosmont Community, Monmouthshire, in April 2019. As the assemblage is made up of selected and deliberately fragmented objects, it has been suggested that the hoard may have been buried as an offering with symbolic and religious intent. Chris Griffiths, who is undertaking a PhD on Bronze Age hoarding with Amgueddfa Cymru–National Museum Wales (AC–NMW) and the University of Reading, told CA that the deposit contains an unusually high number of casting jets and ingots – objects linked to metal-working – which could indicate that it was buried by someone with a workshop in the local area. Indeed, one of the axe fragments and three of the casting jets hail from a ‘South Wales-type’ axe, which Adam Gwilt, AC–NMW’s Principal Curator for Prehistory, has called ‘one of the most vibrant regional traditions of Late Bronze Age axes’. Examples of these axes have been found as far away as southern England and France, Adam said, emphasising that these Bronze Age communities operated within long- distance international exchange networks.
The smaller hoard, comprising two socketed axes, was found by Ian Evans within a field in Michaelston- y-Fedw Community, Newport, in March 2020. Both implements show marks of having been prepared for use, perhaps for chopping down trees or for root-clearance, Chris said. Single finds of similar objects have also been reported in the vicinity of this find-spot, which suggests that the axes could have been deliberately placed within a wider, culturally rich ‘depositional landscape’, Chris explained.
Abergavenny Museum hopes to acquire the Grosmont hoard, and Newport Museum and Art Gallery hopes to acquire the Michaelston-y-Fedw hoard, to allow communities local to the find-spots to connect with their area’s Bronze Age past.