The largest ever Bronze Age hoard to be discovered in London, the third largest of its kind in the UK, has been unearthed in Havering. This hugely significant find will go on display for the first time as the focal point of a major exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands in April 2020.
A total of 453 bronze objects dating between c.900 and c.800 BC have been uncovered during a planned archaeological investigation, with weapons and tools including axe heads, spearheads, fragments of swords, daggers and knives found alongside some other unusual objects, which are rarely found in the UK.
Almost all the weapons appear to be partially broken or damaged, raising questions as to why these objects ended up being carefully buried in groups close together. The deliberate placement of these items may suggest a specialist metal worker operated in this area, and this large scale deposit of bronze may represent an accumulation of material akin to a vault, recycling bank or exchange. Could this treasure have been a religious offering, were they hoping to recycle the metal, control access to the material, or did Bronze Age tools lose their value with the emergence of iron technology?
Objects from the hoard and an in-depth look into these questions will be presented to the public for the first time next year at the Museum of London Docklands. All the archaeological work was agreed with and closely monitored by Historic England, assisted by the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and further conservation and analysis of the artefacts is currently underway which will reveal more insights into this incredible find.
Roy Stephenson, London’s Historic Environment Lead at the Museum of London, said: “We’re thrilled to be able to display this momentous discovery for the first time at the Museum of London Docklands as the centrepiece of a major exhibition in April 2020.
It’s incredibly rare to have uncovered a hoard of this size on one site. This discovery is of huge importance and raises questions as to why this treasure was buried in this way and why it was never recovered? These questions and more will be investigated in the exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands next year.
Our thanks go to Archaeological Solutions, Historic England, Ingrebourne Valley Ltd, and Havering Museum who we’ve worked closely with on this find. We look forward to working with them more as we move towards the opening of the exhibition.”