- Museum number
Cast copper alloy small flanged axe; Arreton type.
- Production date
- 1750 BC - 1500 BC (circa)
Length: 86 millimetres
Weight: 120 grammes
Width: 38 millimetres
- Curator's comments
Primary photograph C.05
Peter Day photograph 10
This Bronze Age axe forms part of the 'Salisbury hoard'.
The Salisbury hoard originally consisted of over 500 copper-alloy objects which were illegally excavated in 1985 at Netherhampton, Wiltshire, England. The objects were subsequently acquired by the British Museum from finders and collectors. It remains one of the largest hoards ever found in Britain and is virtually unique in containing objects from the Early Bronze Age through to the Late Iron Age – several of which are either rare or unique. The chronological span of the copper-alloy objects ranges from flanged axes dating to the Arreton metalwork phase of the Early Bronze Age (c. 1700-1500 BC); through the palstaves, socketed axes, razors, chisels, ferrules and dirks of the Acton Park, Taunton and Penard metalwork phases of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1500-1140 BC); through the socketed axes, spearheads, pins, chapes, socketed gouges, knives, ferrules and buttons of the Wilburton and Ewart Park metalwork phases of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1140-800 BC); through the socketed axes, chapes and razors of the Llyn Fawr metalwork phase of the Earliest Iron Age (c. 800-600 BC); through to the miniature cauldrons and miniature shields dating to the Middle-Late Iron Age (c. 200-100 BC). The mysterious ‘drinking horn’ recovered in subsequent excavations at Netherhampton led by Ian Stead (British Museum) may also date to this latest period.
With artifacts ranging from the Early Bronze Age to the Late Iron Age, Netherhampton contains objects which not only have a date range of over 2,200 years but includes objects representing nearly every century of the intervening time. It seems likely that the whole group were buried together in the later Iron Age, probably in the first or second century BC. This is extremely unusual. Occasionally hoards will produce a piece or two from an earlier time period, such as Danebury, Hagebourn Hill, and perhaps Hounslow, but this is a rare occurrence. Batheaston provides the closest parallel to the Salisbury hoard in terms of the magnitude of recycled objects from the Bronze Age (see Stead 1998, 120-122). Some of the Bronze Age objects from Salisbury were over 2000 years old when they were buried. These may have been first deposited in the Bronze Age, and later re-discovered by Iron Age farmers. These would have been unusual and unfamiliar objects in the Iron Age, and this may explain why they were selected for deposition in the Salisbury hoard.
- On display (G50/dc7)
- Exhibition history
2005-2006 25 Jul-13 Jan, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
2005 12 Feb-26 Jun, Newcastle, Hancock Museum, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
2004-2005 1 Oct-15 Jan, Manchester Museum, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
2004 30 Apr-21 Sep, Cardiff, National Museums Galleries of Wales, Buried Treasure: Finding Our Past
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: 135 (database number)
Miscellaneous number: AL.043 (Lawson number)
Miscellaneous number: JF.07 (collector number)