The Tarves Hoard

Bronze Age, 1000-850 BC
From Tarves, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The arms of a Late Bronze age warrior

This hoard was found on Ythsie Farm, Tarves, and originally contained three swords, a pommel, a chape (scabbard fitting) and two pins. One sword and one pin were not part of the gift to the British Museum.

At this time in Britain, during the Late Bronze Age, there was no practice of ostentatious burial. Hoards containing one, two, or occasionally more swords have been found in Scotland and eastern England, which can easily be interpreted as the personal possessions of powerful warriors, which were possibly buried as dedications on their death. This may be the case with this hoard.

Part of the warrior's costume, perhaps a cloak, was secured by two pins of a distinctive 'sunflower' type. This type has been found in Scotland and Ireland, demonstrating important links at this time across the North Channel between Galloway and Ulster.

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More information


J.M. Coles, 'Scottish Late Bronze Age metalwork: typology, distributions and chronology', Proceedings of the Society o-3, 93 (1959-60), pp. 16-134

C.B. Burgess and I. Colquhoun, 'The swords of Britain', Prähistorische Bronzefunde-1, 4: 5 (1988)

D.G. Coombs, 'Bronze Age weapon hoards in Britain', Archaeologia Atlantica, 1 (1975), pp. 49-81

T.G. Cowie, Magic Metal: early metalworker (University of Aberdeen, Anthropological Museum, 1988)


Length: 58.800 cm (sword)
Length: 58.800 cm (sword)
Length: 58.800 cm (sword)
Width: 6.000 cm (pommel)
Length: 58.800 cm (sword)

Museum number

P&E PRB 1858 11-15 1-5


Gift of the Earl of Aberdeen


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