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Metal detectorist uncovers rare Late Bronze Age spearhead

Metal detectorist uncovers rare Late Bronze Age spearhead

Thursday 25 February 2021

Metal detectorist uncovers rare Late Bronze Age spearhead


A metal spearhead found in Jersey by a local metal detectorist has been confirmed as dating from the Late Bronze Age.

Jay Cornick discovered the 3,000-year-old item while on the beach at Gorey in late August last year.

He initially didn’t think much about it and admits he put it in his rucksack, thinking it was a modern fishing spear.

“I wasn’t looking for anything specific, it just popped up,” Jay told Express.

“I thought it was junk actually and it’s only when I looked at it again that I thought it had a bit of age to it. I thought it might be something related to Mont Orgueil Castle because it was around that area.” 

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Pictured: Metal detectorist Jay Cornick found the spearhead on the beach at Gorey.

As 'best practice' for non-treasure finds in the island recommends recording finds with Jersey Heritage, Jay brought them the large spearhead.

He was “shocked” when he was told the results of carbon dating on the remains of the wooden shaft attached to the spearhead confirmed that it dated to between 1207 BC and 1004 BC.  

“It’s still quite hard to believe,” Jay said. “I have found a few things over the last couple of years but it’s definitely the most significant thing I have found.”

Olga Finch, Jersey Heritage’s Curator of Archaeology, said the spearhead is a “really exciting find” for Jersey. It is thought to be unique to the Channel Islands and a rare find in Great Britain. 

“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,” she explained. 

Pictured: Olga Finch said Jersey Heritage will now work with experts to discover new stories about the Bronze Age in Jersey.

“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,” he said. 

Mr Mahrer 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.

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Pictured: The spearhead can now be seen at Jersey Museum.

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. 

“The spearhead is in such good condition,” he said. “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 at Jersey Museum and Art Gallery.

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