The Salisbury Hoard
Bronze Age and Iron Age, 2400-200
Found at Netherhampton, near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England
An archaeological detective story
The Salisbury Hoard is the largest group of prehistoric metal objects ever found in Britain.
It first came to light in 1988, when archaeologist Dr Ian Stead was shown a collection of bronze miniature shields. He realized that they were unusual Iron Age artefacts, but did not know who found them or where they came from.
As he investigated, Dr Stead heard rumours that they were among hundreds of objects found in the Salisbury area. It then took years of detective work, including secret meetings in a pub, to uncover the story. Two metal detectorists had discovered the hoard during an illegal search and had sold the objects to dealers.
Proper excavations in 1993 established that over 600 objects had been deposited in a large pit close to a settlement. Most were miniature versions of objects such as shields, tools, daggers and spearheads. They were probably buried as offerings to ancient gods. The shields, for example, may have been intended to bring good luck in warfare. They were buried about 2000 years ago, at which time some of the objects were already 2000 years old. These were possibly Bronze Age objects dug up in the Iron Age and reburied with the other items.
From the collection of the British Museum
Richard Hobbs, Treasure: Finding our past (London, The British Museum Press, 2003)
I.M. Stead, The Salisbury Hoard (Tempus Publishing, 1998)