The Baschurch Bronze Age Hoard: Treasure Inquest 21 July 2021
Mr. Ellery, HM Senior Coroner for Shropshire, Telford and the Wrekin, held a treasure inquest on the morning of 21 July 2021 investigating the circumstances of a recently reported find from Baschurch, North Shropshire.
This discovery was reported through the Portable Antiquities Scheme to Heather Beeton FLO for Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside based at the National Museums of Liverpool. The hoard was found by three individuals who were undertaking responsible metal detecting during the covid pandemic.
The hoard comprises three tools of later Bronze Age date; all were found together and thought to have been deposited between 950-750 BC. All are made of copper alloy (bronze) and each is in remarkable condition for their age. Such small woodworking assemblages of tools are relatively common in Western Britain with similar groups being recovered from Shropshire in recent years.
The composition of the group is interesting; the smaller of the two axes is of a local form that is relatively common in the Northern Marches with a similar axe being found at the excavations at the Breidden Hillfort (over the border in Montgomeryshire) – that example was radiocarbon dated to 900BC. The larger elegant and slender axe is however highly unusual with few examples known. Its size and shape suggest that it was a specialised tool / woodworking carpentry axe.
The final element is a bronze gouge – this seems to have been deliberately broken into two parts prior to deposition with the finder noting that they were recovered placed side by side rather than connecting.
Shropshire Museums’ have expressed an interest in acquiring these finds with the hope of displaying them in Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery.
Peter Reavill, Finds Liaison Officer: Shropshire and Herefordshire, said:
“Small groups of metalwork such as these are hugely important to our understanding of prehistoric Shropshire. In general, they are far more common in the north of the county where they are associated often with deliberate deposition in or around wetlands, streams and the meres. Such small group of tools as these may seem insignificant to some but they represent a store of wealth as well as essential tools. They would have been used for specific tasks such as making dugout canoes and planked log boats, as well as building houses and creating household furniture. As such they shouldn’t be considered as casual losses but deliberate gifts to the land, placed in areas of danger or risk for reasons we may not ever really understand. We do know that by breaking them and placing them out of use within the ground our farming predecessors were following long held traditions important to their way of life.”
Emma-Kate Lanyon, Curator, Shropshire Museums, said:
“The discovery of this hoard comes at an exciting time when we are working on a new Bronze Age exhibition for Shrewsbury Museum: “Gathering Light”. This will explore the discovery of the Shropshire Sun Pendant and the North Shropshire Bronze Age Hoards. These finds are revealing a fascinating story about the significance of the North Shropshire wetlands during this period of Prehistory.”
Councillor Cecilia Motley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place, tourism and transport, added:
“Finds such as these offer us all a fascinating insight into our county’s past, and the people who lived and worked on the land. We’re looking forward to being able to display them in our Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery for all to see and enjoy.”
Similar recent finds from Shropshire
This find is one of several later prehistoric discoveries recovered from Shropshire and acquired by museums through the Treasure Act.
The Shropshire Sun Pendant / Late Bronze Age Bulla acquired by the British Museum:
The North Shropshire Hoards:
The Telford Torc:
The Nescliffe Spoons:
Now this find has been declared treasure it will now be valued by the DCMS treasure valuation committee. Once a market value is set Shropshire Museums’ will fund raise so that this find can be saved for the people of the county for all to enjoy. The monies raised will then be given to the finders and landowners as a reward.
More information and images of the finds can be found here: https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/998051
Please note that images are used with permission of British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS).
More information about PAS and Treasure process can be found here: https://finds.org.uk/documents/advice.pdf
More Information on Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery can be seen here: http://www.shrewsburymuseum.org.uk/