Archaeologists in Scotland have discovered a trove of rare weapons, including a notched bronze sword and a gold-decorated spearhead, which likely date back to between 1000 BC and 800 BC. The weapons were found in a pit alongside a Bronze Age roundhouse, researchers said. Archaeologists discovered the remains of 12 Bronze Age buildings during the dig, as well as a much earlier Stone Age hall that probably dates back to the very beginnings of agriculture in Scotland. “There was no real indication of the wealth of archaeological remains before the dig,” said Ronan Toolis, from the GUARD Archaeology Limited, a UK-based firm that conducted the excavation.
During the excavations undertaken prior to the construction of football fields in Scotland, archaeologists turned up pits and postholes in the soil. These features are signs of ancient construction. “As we were stripping the topsoil to view more of these pits and postholes, we saw this glint of gold beneath the topsoil,” Toolis told Live Science.
Archaeologists cut a 80 kilogrammes chunk of earth from the ground that encased the artifacts inside. This block was taken to the lab for a small-scale excavation that took a week, Toolis said. Inside the block was a bronze spearhead, decorated with gold. The spearhead had been bundled with a bronze sword with a lead-and-tin pommel, a bronze scabbard (a sheath for a sword) mount and a chape, the metal fitting at the end of a scabbard.
The bundle also included a bronze pin. The new discovery is rarer because it contains not just metalworks, but organic materials, he said. There are remnants of fur-bearing skin around the spearhead and microscopic fragments of textiles around the bronze pin, he said. There are also pieces of the sword’s wooden scabbard preserved in the bundle. All of these organic artifacts can be radiocarbon dated to pinpoint their age, Toolis said.