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By Rachael Misstear, WalesOnline
UK - FINDING a hoard of long-lost treasure is a metal detector’s dream.
And for one enthusiast that dream was realized when he discovered a trove of Bronze Age treasure in a field in Pembrokeshire.
The 19 bronze and copper artifacts, around 3,000 years old, including tools, a weapon, a personal dress item, ingots and bronze casting byproducts, were found by Gavin Palmer near Manorbier in August last year.
He found socketed axes, a gouge, a sword blade fragment and a circular dish-headed pin which can be dated to the late Bronze Age and were buried around 1000 to 800BC.
It is hoped the items will form a collection at the National Museum of Wales, which intends to acquire the hoard following its independent valuation.
Adam Gwilt, curator of the Bronze Age collections at the museum Wales, said: “This varied group of bronze objects helps us to understand the kinds of tools, weapons and personal dress items that were in circulation in West Wales towards the end of the Bronze Age.
“The hoard may have been buried during a ritual ceremony held by a nearby community of farmers and metalwork.”
Dyfed Archaeological Trust carried out an investigation of the area, with funding support from Cadw, which suggested the artifacts had once been buried together as a hoard in an isolated pit.
No further artifacts were found and there was no evidence of a settlement or monument in the immediate vicinity.
The museum receives a few chance finds of coins and tokens, but occasionally something more spectacular comes to light.
On September 17, 1996, one of Wales’ finest coin hoards was discovered.
The treasure of Tregwynt was uncovered at Tregwynt Mansion, not far from Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, when the owners were building a tennis court.
The coins were bought by National Museum Wales with a heritage lottery grant for an undisclosed fee.
Investigations proved they dated back to the English Civil War of the 1640s.
Two years later two separate but significant discoveries were unearthed by metal detectorists in Monmouthshire – a unique hoard of roman coins from Rogiet and a gold ring from Raglan.
Both finds were significant and fine examples of treasure that are now in the collections at the museum.
Mark Lodwick who works for the museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme and is the only finds co-coordinator in Wales, said stumbling across ancient artifacts is not as rare as one would imagine.
“There are finds reported to us every day,” he said.
“What it comes down to are two aspects of reporting of significant archaeological finds, one of which is treasure, which the Manorbier find comes under, and there are 25 or so of these each year.
“But then there is everything else, items which are still extremely archaeologically important but which doesn’t come under the same statutory protection. All those items are recorded here at the National Museum but we don’t have the right to buy them.
“However, recording them is vital so that archaeologists and the public know what has been found.”
In September 1998, thousands of Roman coins from the third century AD were discovered at Rogiet, Monmouthshire. This was one of the finest hoards ever recorded from Wales and were declared treasure in December that year.
In the same year, a massive and ornate gold signet ring was found near Raglan, Monmouthshire, and was also declared treasure.
In 2004 a metal detector enthusiast uncovered a 1,200-year- old gold ring in a field near Mold, thought to date from the 9th or 10th century.
If such finds are legally declared as “treasure” then following a valuation from an independent team of experts, the museum buys the item for public ownership.
Mr. Lodwick said that often items of greater archaeological significance don’t fall into that category.
“Defining an item as treasure has nothing to do with its archaeological significance – most of the significant objects are not protected by treasure laws. Treasure tends to be determined by an item’s metal content so often there are some items that are lost to the museum.”
However some metal detector users like Mr. Palmer have made several finds and have donated items to the museum.
“The thrill of finding something of interest is the main motivation, but obviously knowing something may be of great value is incredibly exciting too,” said Mr. Palmer.
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“Treasure – If it’s out there, we’re going to find it!” (Tommy Vawter)
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