Stalbridge campaigners fight to save Bronze Age axe

By John Fieldhouse,
Stalbridge History Society

CAMPAIGNERS are fighting to raise the money needed to keep Bronze Age treasures, unearthed in Stalbridge, in Dorset Museum.

A few years ago a metal detectorist found a Bronze Age rapier, an axe head and a decorated bracelet somewhere in the Stalbridge area.

The Stalbridge Hoard, as it is called, is considered a find of national importance.

The Bronze Age in Britain spanned 2300BC to about 800BC. This was the period when tools, weapons and useful items were made of bronze – a mixture of copper and tin.

Being able to mine tin from shallow deposits in the Southwest of England enabled people in this area able to trade extensively with Europe. Yes, we had a Bronze Age boom in the Southwest.

Before the Bronze Age, the Neolithic Britons, who built Stonehenge, were a completely different people.

These were gradually ‘replaced’ with people migrating from the central Steppe area of Eurasia over about 700 years during the early Bronze Age. They brought their culture with them.

Bronze Age people lived in roundhouses, built off the ground on thick posts and resembling a very strong glamping yurt.

Early Bronze Age Britons buried their dead in earth mounds (barrows), but Middle Bronze Age people cremated their dead and buried metal objects, such as daggers, at the site of cremation.

So is the Stalbridge Hoard part of a burial site? Why was the rapier deliberately broken into three pieces? Who would have worn the bracelet?

The staff of Dorset Museum hope to find the answers to these questions, and the many more that the residents of Stalbridge may have.

On Saturday, February 10 at Stalbridge Hall (10am for 10.30am), you’ll have the chance to hear Clare Randall, Dorset archaeology advisor, and Elizabeth Selby, director of collections and public engagement at Dorset Museum, talk about what’s known of the Hoard and what theories are still being investigated.

Entry is free and coffee/tea and biscuits will be available for £1.

The museum wants to keep the Stalbridge Hoard on public display in Dorset – to do so, it needs to raise the money needed to buy it.

The museum has raised a lot of the approximately £17,000 needed to secure the treasure, but it needs to find 10% of this funding locally.

To find out more about the Hoard appeal and donate, please visit


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