A MAJOR hoard of ancient artefacts has been unearthed near Tisbury.
A metal detector enthusiast located more than 100 bronze items, thought to be about 2,700 years old, on a farmland site which is being kept secret.
Having first found a spearhead, he decided not to disturb the ground and notified archaeologists, who were able to conduct a meticulous excavation.
The finds, from the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age, include tools such as chisels, axe heads and gouges, and weapons including fragments of a sword and scabbard and more spearheads.
Experts are hugely excited about the hoard, which is still being catalogued. They are not prepared to guess at its value yet but say it is the biggest in the area since the Salisbury Hoard – now in the British Museum - was discovered in the 1990s.
Salisbury & South Wilts Museum director Adrian Green said: “It’s a very rare and important find, and it’s still fresh out of the ground. This was not previously a known archaeological site. The guy was just metal detecting as a hobby.
“What was significant about it was that he very responsibly told the finds liaison officer for the county, Katie Hinds, who is paid by the British Museum to record finds made by chance like this, rather than just digging it up himself and potentially losing valuable archaeological information.
“This was brilliant, and exactly what we want detectorists to do. She was able to arrange a specialist team to go and dig it up. That’s very important from an academic point of view.
“You could count on two hands the number of Bronze Age hoards which have been recorded professionally by archaeologists in this way.”
The hoard will go to the British Museum to be assessed and there will be an inquest to determine whether it is treasure trove.
If so, Salisbury Museum will have a chance to raise funds to buy it.
Neither the finder nor the landowner wish to be identified.