ENTHUSIASTS are being offered a brief chance to view a major hoard of Bronze Age artefacts unearthed at Tisbury.

From November 16 until Saturday, November 26 more than half the 114 items, which were found by a metal detector enthusiast, will be displayed at Salisbury & South Wilts Museum in Cathedral Close before leaving the city for expert evaluation.

Archaeologists are already puzzling over how the objects, centuries apart in origin, came to be buried together.

The museum’s collections manager Jane Ellis-Schön said: “It’s really quite strange, because some of these items are 1,000 years older than others, yet we believe someone buried them together at the same time, about 2,700 years ago, for a purpose.

“Maybe it was to safeguard them, or maybe it was an offering. But the site is just a farm field, with no known ancient settlement nearby.”

Later this month the hoard will be sent to the British Museum where it will be assessed, catalogued and valued. Then there will be an inquest to determine whether it is treasure trove.

If so, the Salisbury team will have a chance to acquire it.

The items include a rapier blade, complete with the rivets that would have its wooden handle in place.

“Because the detectorist alerted us and left the site undisturbed, we were able to excavate properly and recover these little items which often get missed,” said Ms Ellis-Schön.

There are large pieces of two sword blades, plus the hilt of another, along with several chisels and gouges, which would have had wooden handles. There are also punches, used for working with leather or metal, plus a hammer, axes, spearheads and sickles.

Beneath the corrosion it is possible to see different styles of decoration. “We have allowed them to dry out naturally and that has halted the corrosion process,” said Ms Ellis-Schön. “They are actually in very good condition, the metal is quite solid. But we are not allowed to clean them at this stage. There may be deposits within the handle sockets that may be of interest. For example, we could find out what wood they were using.”

The hoard is on view every day except Sunday from 10am to 5pm.