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‘Who buried the hatchet’ in 3,000-year-old Bronze Age mystery is unearthed by Museum of London Docklands

PUBLISHED: 15:20 24 August 2020 | UPDATED: 16:08 11 September 2020

Bronze Age terret ring used to prevent reins tangling on horse-drawn carts 3,000 years ago. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

Bronze Age terret ring used to prevent reins tangling on horse-drawn carts 3,000 years ago. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

David Parry

A large Bronze Age hoard uncovered on marshland by the Thames is going on public display for the first time after being kept under wraps because of the lockdown.

Bronze Age axe heads in the Havering Hoard at Museum of London Docklands. Picture: David Parry/PA WireBronze Age axe heads in the Havering Hoard at Museum of London Docklands. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

The mystery surrounding the so-called Havering Hoard, unearthed at Rainham Marshes goes on show on September 11 at the Museum of London Docklands until next April, as part of a Bronze Age Mystery exhibition of objects dating back about 3,000 years.

The hoard includes weapons, tools and unusual objects rarely found in Britain such as a ring used to prevent the reins tangling on horse-drawn carts.

“This is a hugely significant archaeological find,” the museum’s archaeology curator Kate Sumnall said. “It adds valuable new information into a fascinating moment of London’s past, but also raises intriguing questions around its burial and the people behind it.”

Curator Kate Sumnall with rare objects in the Havering Hoard, first Bronze Age examples of their kind ever found in Britain. Picture: David Parry/PA WireCurator Kate Sumnall with rare objects in the Havering Hoard, first Bronze Age examples of their kind ever found in Britain. Picture: David Parry/PA Wire

The objects were dug up close to the Thames foreshore in 2018, raising questions about who buried the hoard, what reason and why it was never recovered.

The Bronze Age is usually the era Britain is seen as “catching up” with developments on the Continent after much sought-after tin started to be mined in the West Country used with copper to produce bronze.

Bronze Age Britain began with the period around 4,500 years ago, the gradual end of the Neolithic Stone Age, through to the Late Bronze Age from 1000 to 700BC and in to the Early Iron Age.

A close shave... double-sided Bronze Age razer. Picture: Museum of London DocklandsA close shave... double-sided Bronze Age razer. Picture: Museum of London Docklands

“It was a time of transition with a movement of people and adopting new technologies and ideas,” Kate explains. “We don’t see the use of iron in the South East or society shifts that represent the Iron Age until around 700BC.”

The exhibition starts with the moment the Havering Hoard was discovered in 2018, then back 30 centuries exploring the stories the it might unravel.

All 453 objects are going on show on September 18 alongside artefacts from the museum’s own collection until April 18 that paint a picture of life at the end of the Bronze Age 2,700 years ago when all of east London was woodland and open countryside.


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