Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bronze Age detector sites

Sites of the 1st millennium AD dominate discussion about metal detecting. But metal detecting can contribute much to Bronze Age research as well. Two fresh examples are found in the most recent issues of Kuml and Lund Archaeological Review.

In the Danish case, Jeanette Varberg presents a ploughed-out Late Bronze Age (period IV) metalwork hoard that was located by a farmer a few years back. The spread-out pieces of the hoard were collected by archaeologists with the aid of a metal detector.

In the Scanian case, Anders Berntsson and Jonas Paulsson recently re-investigated a ploughed-out Bronze Age urn cemetery at Piledal with metal detectors. At rescue excavations here in 1973-74, fifteen bronze objects had been recovered from the remaining lower parts of urn burials. In less than 20 hours of metal detecting, Berntsson & Paulsson found twelve certainly identifiable fragments of Bronze Age metalwork plus a number of doubtful pieces, all originating from the very burials excavated in the 70s.

In both of these cases, professional archaeologists have done the detecting and documentation. My point is that for every site that receives this kind of professional attention, there are hundreds that are known but never visited, and thousands that aren't known at all to science. And that's why skilled amateurs could make such a valuable contribution to research.


Varberg, J. 2005. Rosenlund og Brøndumgård bronzedepoter. Kult og samfund i yngre bronzealder. Kuml 2005. Højbjerg.

Berntsson, A. & Paulsson, J. 2006. Piledal revisited. A test of metal detectors on a Bronze Age site. Lund Archaeological Review 2004 (antedated). University of Lund.

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