Bronze Age hoard of ‘national significance’ discovered (Reports).
As Mariusz Stepien moved over the ground, the contraption was reacting audibly and the “strong signals” it emitted made him feel for sure he was on to something.
Now the extent of his discovery has emerged – a hoard of Bronze Age artefacts which experts have described as “nationally significant”.
The keen metal detectorist was searching a field near Peebles in the Scottish Borders with a group of friends on June 21 when he found a bronze object buried half a metre underground.
The group camped in the field and built a shelter to protect the find from the elements while archaeologists spent 22 days investigating what treasures lay in the earth that had been hidden away for thousands of years.
Among the items found were a complete horse harness – preserved by the soil so well, experts are able to see for the first time how Bronze Age horse harnesses were assembled – and a sword which have been dated as being from 1000 to 900 BC.
Mr Stepien, 44, said he is still coming to terms with the magnitude of his find.
He said: “I thought I’ve never seen anything like this before and felt from the very beginning that this might be something spectacular and I’ve just discovered a big part of Scottish history.
“I was over the moon, actually shaking with happiness.
“We wanted to be a part of the excavation from the beginning to the end. I will never forget those 22 days spent in the field. Every day there were new objects coming out which changed the context of the find, every day we learned something new.”
He added: “I’m so pleased that the earth revealed to me something that was hidden for more than 3000 years. I still can’t believe it happened.”
As he was getting strong signals from the earth around the initial object, Mr Stepien contacted the Treasure Trove Unit to report his find and the excavation quickly began.
The team of experts also uncovered decorated straps, buckles, rings, ornaments and chariot wheel axle caps.
Evidence of a decorative “rattle pendant” from the harness was also discovered – the first one to be found in Scotland and only the third to be found in the UK.
The soil had preserved organic materials like leather and wood, allowing experts to trace the straps that connected the rings and buckles together to make the harness – never seen before in the UK.
The hoard has been moved from the site in a large block of soil and taken to the National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh.
Emily Freeman, head of the Treasure Trove Unit overseeing the recovery said: “This is a nationally significant find – so few Bronze Age hoards have been excavated in Scotland.
“It was an amazing opportunity for us to not only recover bronze artefacts, but organic material as well. There is still a lot of work to be done to assess the artefacts and understand why they were deposited.
“We could not have achieved this without the responsible actions of the finder or the support of the landowners.
“The finder was quick to action when they realised that they had found an in-situ hoard, which resulted in the Treasure Trove Unit and National Museums Scotland being on site within days of discovery.”
Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR), David Harvie, said: “This Bronze Age hoard is highly significant and promises to give us a new insight into Scotland’s history.”