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Metal detectorist unearths ‘nationally significant' Bronze Age hoard

Mariusz Stepien was searching a field near Peebles in June when he found a complete horse harness and sword dating from 1000 to 900 BC.

A metal detectorist has discovered a hoard of Bronze Age artefacts in the Scottish Borders which experts have described as “nationally significant”.

Mariusz Stepien, 44, was searching a field near Peebles with friends on June 21 when he found a bronze object buried half a metre underground.

The group camped in the field and built a shelter to protect the find from the elements while archaeologists spent 22 days investigating.

Mariusz Stepien
Mariusz Stepien stands next to the hoard ready for transport to Edinburgh (COPFS/PA)

Among the items found were a complete horse harness – preserved by the soil – and a sword which have been dated as being from 1000 to 900 BC.

Mr Stepien said: “I thought I’ve never seen anything like this before and felt from the very beginning that this might be something spectacular and I’ve just discovered a big part of Scottish history.

“I was over the moon, actually shaking with happiness.

“We wanted to be a part of the excavation from the beginning to the end.

“I will never forget those 22 days spent in the field. Every day there were new objects coming out which changed the context of the find, every day we learned something new.

“I’m so pleased that the earth revealed to me something that was hidden for more than 3000 years. I still can’t believe it happened.”

Sword
A sword in its scabbard found during the dig near Peebles (COPFS/PA)

As he was getting strong signals from the earth around the initial object, Mr Stepien contacted the Treasure Trove Unit to report his find.

They also found decorated straps, buckles, rings, ornaments and chariot wheel axle caps.

Evidence of a decorative “rattle pendant” from the harness was also discovered – the first one to be found in Scotland and only the third in the UK.

The hoard has been moved from the site in a large block of soil and taken to the National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh.

Emily Freeman, head of the Treasure Trove Unit overseeing the recovery and assessment of the find, said: “This is a nationally significant find – so few Bronze Age hoards have been excavated in Scotland.

Archaeologist
An archaeologist working at the site near Peebles (COPFS/PA)

“It was an amazing opportunity for us to not only recover bronze artefacts, but organic material as well.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to assess the artefacts and understand why they were deposited.

“We could not have achieved this without the responsible actions of the finder or the support of the landowners.

“The finder was quick to action when they realised that they had found an in-situ hoard, which resulted in the Treasure Trove Unit and National Museums Scotland being on site within days of discovery.”

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