• A pensioner paid $25 to find buried treasure at a hunters’ rally in southwest England.

  • After getting lost, John Belgrave came across a Bronze Age hoard, per The Guardian.

  • A local museum said it has raised funds to purchase the items, valued at $21,500.

A pensioner who paid $25 to look for buried treasure came across a Bronze Age hoard after getting lost during a treasure hunters’ rally, The Guardian reported.

John Belgrave, a 60-year-old retiree, had been separated from a group of metal detectorists in 2020 when his device detected what he described as the find of a lifetime, according to the outlet.

“It was clear there was metal there, but I thought it would just be an old can or something,” he told the outlet, adding: “I dug about eight inches down and found an odd-shaped object that was caked in clay.”

He’d been heading to higher ground at the time, to try to spot the rest of the group of around 50 or so people in the town of Stalbridge, near Dorset in England.

Belgrave stumbled upon a sword hilt and later found two broken sections of the blade, a palstave ax head, and an ornate arm bracelet, the outlet reported.

Middle Bronze Age rapier, a bangle and palstave axe head

Middle Bronze Age rapier, a bangle, and a palstave axe head.PAS/The British Museum, Surrey County Council CC BY 2.0 DEED

He had discovered a 2-foot middle Bronze Age rapier sword split into three pieces and buried among the remains of a wealthy landowner, according to the outlet.

“My head was in a spin,” the pensioner said, after finding out he had come across a Bronze Age hoard thought to be valued at $21,500, per The Guardian.

“The view of the British Museum is that it was deliberately broken and deposited in the ground as part of a ritual burial and offering,” he told the outlet, adding he found the pieces in a part of the land that had never been opened to the treasure hunters’ rally.

In a statement sent to Business Insider, Dorset Museum and Art Gallery said it had purchased Stalbridge Hoard, named after the town where it was found, alongside another hoard from the same area after raising £32,300.

According to its director of collections and public engagement, Elizabeth Selby, the hoard is “incredibly special” due to the sword’s cast bronze handle and the “quite unusual” bracelet decoration.

“There aren’t really any comparable objects like the rapier, so to be able to acquire these items is really important for us,” she told The Guardian.

Selby added that discoveries like this one provide insight into how people traveled, interacted, and shared ideas on the continent in the centuries preceding the Roman invasion.

“There was a farming community there, and these people generated enough wealth to be able to barter for or exchange objects that others had made,” she told the outlet.

The museum plans to showcase the items in a special exhibition on treasure in the next few years and eventually integrate them into the permanent galleries, Selby told BI, without providing a clear timeline.

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