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Amateur Treasure Hunter Hits It Big in Scotland

'I've just discovered a big part of Scottish history'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2020 9:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – A man and his metal detector have uncovered a 3,000-year-old hoard of Bronze Age goods, including a complete sword and horse harness, its leather and wood still preserved. "[I] felt from the very beginning that this might be something spectacular and I've just discovered a big part of Scottish history," Mariusz Stepien tells the BBC. He was right. Experts say the find, offering a first look at how Bronze Age horse harnesses were crafted, is of national significance. Stepien had been hunting for treasure with friends in a field near Peebles, Scotland, in June when he came upon a bronze object buried some 18 inches underground. "I thought 'I've never seen anything like this before,'" he tells the BBC, adding he was "actually shaking with happiness." The euphoria continued over the next 22 days as Stepien camped in the field, watching archaeologists investigate.

They uncovered artifacts dating to around 1000 BC, including a sword in its sheath; wheel axle caps from a chariot or cart; the straps, buckles, and rings of the harness; and a rattle pendant believed to have hung from the harness—the first such artifact to be found in Scotland. Only one other cache of Bronze Age goods has been found in the country, and that discovery occurred more than 150 years ago, per Smithsonian. Emily Freeman of the Crown Office's Treasure Trove Unit calls it "a nationally significant find," though "there is still a lot of work to be done to assess the artifacts and understand why they were deposited." Some items have yet to be excavated from the block of earth that archaeologists lifted from the ground; it has been transported to Edinburgh's National Museums Collection Center, per CNN. You can virtually explore it here. (A Bronze Age sword was found hiding in plain sight.)

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