RARE DISCOVERY: Phillip Holt with a selection of items which included a piece of gold
RARE DISCOVERY: Phillip Holt with a selection of items which included a piece of gold

A BRONZE Age hoard discovered by metal detectorists on a dale farm has been described as being of “national importance”.

County Durham’s field archaeologist was called in to the farm near Eggleston after the metal detecting club from Lancashire uncovered spears, knives and beads dating back about 3,000 years.

A sliver of gold was also found during a later archaeological dig about three weeks ago.

Graham Morrison, secretary of the West Lancashire Metal Detecting Club, said finding a bronze age hoard is incredibly rare, and it was the first one he had been involved with the four decades he has been detectoring.

He added: “Bronze Age hoards like this are unusual. Out of a thousand hoard finds, maybe one is bronze age. They are so rare and spectacular when you find one.”

The discovery was made by club member Phillip Holt who initially found a spear about four inches below the soil when he detected a signal. After removing the spear, he carefully replaced the soil and scanned the area again and picked up another signal.

Mr Morrison said: “Phillip is quite experienced and he knew he was on to something.”

The group carefully removed most spears, knives and amber and jet beads by using paintbrushes to work the soil.

The work halted after members noticed a change in the soil colour.

Mr Morrison said: “An immediate stop was called due to the possibility of cremated remains being located. The discovery was immediately reported to the County Durham Finds Liaison Officer and a meeting was arranged at the find location where they decided to excavate the remaining items.

“They managed to uncover more items which were all recorded and photographed. The whole hoard is now being catalogued and conservation is underway.”

He added: “It is wonderful that this history is being preserved for everyone. It is filling in a gap in the history of that part of Teesdale.

“These would have been the prized possessions of someone who would have had great status.”

Mr Morrison said his club, which raises funds for charities such as the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Fund (RABI), is always looking for new farms to investigate and is keen to chat to farmers in Teesdale who are willing to take part. The club also pays farmers for allowing them onto their fields.

Mr Morrison can be contacted on 07960 872074 or by email on detectorbod@icloud.com.

He said: “You just never know what is out there.”