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Bronze Age treasures from 750BC discovered in Rainham

PUBLISHED: 17:00 16 July 2019

This Bronze Age copper alloy axe head was discovered in Rainham in 1990. No pictures of the newly discovered artefacts have yet been released. Picture: Finds UK database/Creative Commons

This Bronze Age copper alloy axe head was discovered in Rainham in 1990. No pictures of the newly discovered artefacts have yet been released. Picture: Finds UK database/Creative Commons

Archant

A hoard of Bronze Age treasures experts believe to be almost 3,000 years old has been discovered in Rainham, the Recorder can reveal.

At Walthamstow Coroner's Court today (Tuesday, July 16), an officer of the court officially opened an inquest into the discovery of a large number of Bronze Age copper alloy artefacts in the Rainham area.

He confirmed that four hoards of treasure have been found in close proximity, and preliminary examinations have dated them between 900 and 750BC.

All in all, 453 objects were discovered, including copper ingots and fragments of what are believed to be Late Bronze Age ornaments.

Only 77 items were recovered intact.

No information on who discovered the items, when the discovery happened or where exactly in Rainham it occurred have been released. Nor have any photographs.

The total weight of the finds is 45.25kg, and the entire hoard has now been examined by Dr Sophia Adams at the University of Glasgow, who has confirmed that the find qualifies as treasure.

The way authorities in the UK deal with the discovery of treasure is dictated by the 1996 Treasure Act.

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That act means finders of treasure are legally obliged to report their discovery to a coroner, who will then decide whether the find qualifies as treasure or not at a full inquest.

If the item is formally declared treasure, then the finder must offer the item for sale to a museum at a price set by an independent board of antiquities experts.

If no museums express an interest in buying the find, only then is the finder legally entitled to keep it.

Today's hearing was only an opening, with the full hearing currently set to take place on July 23.

The area around Rainham and South Hornchurch is believed to have been well-inhabited around 3,000 years ago.

In the 1990s, a large number of Bronze Age artefacts were discovered, dated to between 1,000 and 800BC.

Many of those items were found surrounded by pottery fragments, leading experts to believe these artefacts were purposely buried inside ceramic containers.

One of the British Museum's best examples of an Anglo Saxon drinking horn - made of glass - was also discovered in Rainham back in 1952.

However, that only dated back to the seventh century AD.

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