Father and son left shocked by bronze age finds in Bowes
METAL detectorists have uncovered a hoard of spear heads and sword parts more than 2,800 years old.
A total of 13 items including five socketed axes, four leaf sword shafts, two axe heads and a pair of spear heads were found in the “Barnard Castle area” in August last year.
Kevin Hopper and his dad, David, watched on as their Bronze Age find was declared a Treasure Trove at Crook Coroners Court last Thursday (September 15).
“It’s a very special one,” said David.
“I was called over and was told ‘look at this’ – it was a beautiful spear head so we went a bit further.
“Kevin found everything and I found nothing.”
An expert report said some of the copper-based fragments were in “very good condition” with many estimated to be from the Ewart Park Phase – between 900 and 800BC.
It added that the axe heads were common across Northern Britain with similarities to pieces found in Penrith and Westoe. Comparisons were also drawn with the 123 copper objects found in the 1980 Gilmonby hoard, which currently sits in The Bowes Museum.
The Bishop Auckland father-son team have put their top of the range metal detectors to work for the past few years. Kevin, 32, did not know what he had found initially but his 62-year-old father soon put him right.
“When he showed me I said by heavens that’s a Bronze Age axe,” said David.
“When you pick something out the ground I often wonder who the last person to hold it was and what they were like.”
Despite the finds being spread out over a 100m stretch, it was judged the artefacts were dispersed by years of farming meaning they were classed as a single find.
Discoveries more than 300 years old go up before the coroner in a tradition dating back 1,000 years. Assistant coroner for Durham and Darlington Oliver Longstaff congratulated the pair on their find after declaring the hoard had earned its treasure status.
He added: “I hope the find gave you excitement and learning about it has given you a great deal of pleasure.”
Mr Hopper said he did not want to reveal the location of the find to prevent the farm owner being bothered by night hawkers and enthusiasts.
The collection is expected to be sold to the Durham Museum.