Bronze Age spear makes its point for Jersey history

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The object, thought to be unique to the Channel Islands and a rare find in the British Isles, was made between 1207 BC and 1004 BC, according to carbon dating analysis of remains of its wooden shaft.

Olga Finch, Jersey Heritage’s curator of archaeology, described the find as ‘really exciting for Jersey’ and said it was completely different from other Bronze Age items in the public collection, which were mostly from hoards and usually significant deposits of metal tools and weapons which had been broken up.

‘It also doesn’t fit with what we already know about this period of time, so we’re wondering if it was deposited as part of a ritual or an offering.

‘Our next step is to work with experts elsewhere and look at the location of the find to discover what new stories we can find out about the Bronze Age in Jersey,’ she said. The spearhead was discovered by Jay Cornick, who took it to Jersey Heritage to be recorded, in line with recommended best practice for non-treasure finds in the Island.

Jersey Heritage’s museum conservator Neil Mahrer, who carried out the restoration work on the spearhead, said he had never seen anything like it in his career.

‘To see this spearhead in one piece was incredible and the wood inside the spear shaft was so well preserved that we were able to use it to discover that it dated back over 3,000 years,’ he said.

Mr Mahrer sent the wood to York Archaeological Trust, which used carbon dating not only to discover the time period it was from but also to establish that the wood was field maple, commonly used during the period.

The significance of the find was confirmed by Paul Driscoll, archaeology and historic environment record officer for the Department of Environment and Community Services in Bristol, who has studied and researched the Bronze Age collections at Jersey Heritage and more widely in the Channel Islands.

He said: ‘The spearhead is in such good condition. Many of the spears in the Jersey Heritage collection are broken, I think deliberately in prehistory, as they are uniform in their breakage and thus unlikely to be random,’ he said. ‘There are, however, a few intact examples but none that parallel this one.’

The Bronze Age spearhead is now on display in a new-finds case at the Jersey Museum and Art Gallery.

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