In what archaeologists are calling the "find of a lifetime", a horde of Late Bronze Age weapons has been discovered at a Scottish construction site. Among the items found is a gold-decorated spearhead, and a 3000-year-old bronze sword in remarkably good condition.
Careful, now — that sword is 3000 years old. (Image: GUARD Archaeology)
The artefacts were found during an archaeological evaluation on a field in Carnoustie, Scotland prior to the construction of two of soccer fields. The firm commissioned to do the work, GUARD Archaeology, says the hoard of ancient metalworks is a "rare and internationally significant discovery". The items were found in a pit close to a Bronze Age Settlement currently being excavated by the archaeologists.
The gold-decorated spearhead. (Image: GUARD Archaeology)
The spearhead was found next to a bronze sword, a pin and sheath fittings. All items, which are dated to around 3000 years old, are archaeologically significant, but the presence of the gold-decorated spearhead is exceptional.
"The earliest Celtic myths often highlight the reflectivity and brilliance of heroic weapons," explained Blair in an interview with the BBC. "Gold decoration was probably added to this bronze spearhead to exalt it both through the material's rarity and its visual impact."
The 3000-year-old bronze sword alongside the remnants of a sheath. (Image: GUARD Archaeology)
Other exceptional finds include well-preserved organic remains, for instance, a leather and wooden sheath that enveloped the sword. It's considered the best preserved Late Bronze Age sheath ever found in Britain. The archaeologists also found fur skin wrapped around the spearhead, and textile around the pin and sheath. Organic items like this rarely survive for so long in the ground.
Based on the archaeological evidence, it appears that humans lived on this particular spot for an exceptionally long time. The excavation revealed the largest Neolithic hall so far found in Scotland, a building dating to around 4000 BC. This structure, write the researchers, "may have been as old to the people who buried the weapon hoard, as they are to us".
Whoa. Let that sink in for a minute...
Archaeologists toiling away at the Carnoustie site. (Image: GUARD Archaeology)
Along with the weapons horde, the GUARD team has uncovered around 1000 archaeological features in the area, including a dozen Bronze Age semi-circular houses, a pair of long Neolithic-era dwellings and various broken pots and artefacts. It isn't clear if this site was occupied continuously for thousands of years, or if the settlements were separated in time by many centuries.
Regardless, it doesn't appear that the local kiddies will be playing soccer on these ancient fields any time soon.