A rare and complete metal spearhead dating back thousands of years to the Late Bronze Age has been discovered in Jersey.
It was found on the beach at Gorey by metal detectorist Jay Cornick, who brought it to Jersey Heritage to be recorded, in line with recommended best practice for non-treasure finds in the Island. The large spearhead is thought to be unique to the Channel Islands and a rare find in Great Britain.
The results of carbon dating on the remains of the wooden shaft attached to the spearhead have confirmed that it dates to between 1207 BC and 1004 BC. Olga Finch, Jersey Heritage’s Curator of Archaeology, said: “The spearhead is a really exciting find for Jersey – it is unique and very rare in terms of its large size and the fact that it is intact. The Bronze Age items we already have in our collection are mainly from hoards, which are usually great deposits of metal tools and weapons but mostly broken up and used. This spearhead is completely different from everything else we have.
“It also doesn’t fit with what we already know about this period of time so we’re wondering if it was deposited as part of a ritual or an offering. Our next step is to work with experts elsewhere and look at the location of the find to discover what new stories we can find out about the Bronze Age in Jersey.”
The conservation work on the spearhead was carried by Jersey Heritage’s Museum Conservator Neil Mahrer, who said he’d never seen anything like it in his career: “To see this spearhead in one piece was incredible and the wood inside the spear shaft was so well preserved that we were able to use it to discover that it dated back to over 3,000 years ago.” Neil sent the wood to York Archaeological Trust, who used carbon dating to not only discover the date but that the wood was Field Maple, commonly used in the Bronze Age.
Paul Driscoll, Archaeology and Historic Environment Record Officer for the Department of Environment and Community Services in Bristol, has studied and researched the Bronze Age collections at Jersey Heritage and more widely in the Channel Islands. He said: “The spearhead is in such good condition. Many of the spears in the Jersey Heritage collection are broken – I think deliberately in prehistory as they are uniform in their breakage and thus unlikely to be random…there are, however, a few intact examples but none that parallel this one.”
The Bronze Age spearhead is now on display in a new finds case at Jersey Museum & Art Gallery.
- In following best practice for finds, Jersey Heritage recommends that any objects discovered in the Island are only removed from the ground if they are at risk from damage or theft. Finders are asked to record the findspot location and contact Finds Officer Georgia Robinson on 833141 or firstname.lastname@example.org. She will then meet the finder either on-site or at Jersey Archive, if the object has been removed.
- A Finds From is filled out to help Jersey Heritage record the object on the Historic Environment Record for Jersey. This information is available online but does not include personal details or the precise ‘findspot’ without the finder’s permission.
- Once recorded, the object is returned to the finder along with a report. If the object is rare then a member of Jersey Heritage staff may contact the finder to discuss the possibility of acquiring the find so that future generations can benefit from it. This can only happen with the finder and landowner’s permission.
- If the find is made of precious metal (gold or silver), it is regarded by law as “treasure trove” and is the property of the Crown. In this instance, a finder should contact the Receiver General, who will instruct Jersey Heritage on further action. The finder may receive a reward.