Artefact Analysis: Bronze Age Wrist-Guard

Today’s blog is a close-up on one of our star finds from Barrow Clump, a probable Bronze Age wrist-guard. Adam and Harry, the Op Nightingale soldiers who uncovered the artefact, describe how it was found:

Taking the chalk capping off the north end of trench 2, we were not expecting to find anything of any archaeological significance, until Harry unearthed what later turned out to be an uncontained cremation. Whilst examining loose earth amongst the bone and ash I found an oblong stone at almost the same time as Harry unearthed the cremation. I was quite surprised to discover anything as this was my first day of my first archaeological dig. Once the significance of the find was realised it was taken away for cleaning and storage.

As it was very late in the day the rest of the work of taking back the chalk capping and unearthing the cremation started the next day. We are now gathering up all the loose earth and remaining fragments of bone around the cremation in order to try and work out the size of the cremation and any other finds that are waiting to be discovered.


557 Adam and Harry excavating the cremation

The wrist-guard was cleaned and processed by Katie, one of our finds volunteers, who has described the artefact for our blog:

The object that Adam and Harry discovered appears to be a wrist guard similar to one of two found with the Amesbury Archer. With Amesbury being less than 3 miles away, this comparison may prove to be very exciting. The guard is 59mm in length and 21mm in width and made from a fine grained stone, possibly blue lias which is found in the South West. There is one circular perforation in one end. The opposite end has been broken and the end is smoothed with use. Unusually however, the long edges have been bevelled whilst the top and bottom faces are flat. The edges suggest it has been re-used as a whetstone for sharpening knives, probably due to the break in the middle.

The wrist-guard / whetstone probably dates to the Bronze Age period. There are few examples of finds like this one and even fewer that have been found with cremations rather than inhumations. The re-use and the rarity of the find made this a very exciting object which will hopefully provide clues to the site.


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Learn about the finds from previous Op Nightingale digs at www.dmasuk.org.

To return to the main blog www.florence.opnightingale.co.uk/blog, click here.

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