New treasure hoards found in Shropshire as site named as crucial archaeological area

Bronze and Iron Age treasure found close to where a remarkable sun pendant was discovered in Shropshire has convinced experts that that land is now one of the most important archaeological sites in western Britain.

New finds have been made at the area when the sun pendant, pictured, was discovered
New finds have been made at the area when the sun pendant, pictured, was discovered

Two recent hoards of spearheads and horse harness rings have strengthened the belief that the secret location in the Marches was once an important open air, religious location.

They are the seventh and eighth finds made within a square mile of each other in a place described only as on the edge of wetland in Shropshire.

At treasure inquests held in Shrewsbury on Wednesday, senior coroner for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin John Ellery officially declared the hoards as treasure.

He heard evidence from Shropshire finds officer, Peter Reavill, who said the two hoards had been discovered in the same landscape as the sun pendant, or bulla, which was found found four years ago and has since gone on display.

Giving no evidence on who discovered the latest finds, Mr Reavill said it was a collection of Bronze Age items dating back to between 800-600 BC.

They included spearheads, two of them ornately decorated and other with "intriguing" corrosion showing it had probably been in a reed bed.

There were also two items that protect the base of a spear, along with the base of a scabbard and a series of rings used to tighten items such as belts.

Mr Reavill said the other hoard found in the same landscape dated around 600-700 years later, between the late Iron Age and very earliest Roman period in Britain.

They were a series of chariot or horse harness rings used to secure the chariot to the team of horses.

"There is one particularly fine example that may have been enamelled," he said.

"Another item in the hoard is what we believe is a unique harness fitting with a conical socket. We haven't found any other example under archaeological records."

A lynch pin to stop the wheel of a cart falling off the axle was also highly unusual, Mr Reavill said.

"It is inlaid with glass and is very, very rare, we believe the first example of its kind to be discovered."

Another item was inlaid with coral.

Although the items had been dispersed by agricultural activities, archaeologists are happy they were two hoards.

"Objects were placed together at special places, man made such as hill forts, or natural places such as close to water bogs and often as offerings or gifts to deities," Mr Reavill said.

"With eight separate hoards this has become one of the most important archaeological sites in Western Britain.

"The eighth hoard also extends the dating of the site from the middle and late bronze age to the Roman conquest of Shropshire. It also suggests we had an open-air place of worship here."

The coroner was told that the Sun Pendant, which had been displayed at the Shrewsbury Museum, is currently on show at an exhibition at Stonehenge.

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