Ancient treasures uncovered on Argyll estate

A hoard of hidden treasure from across the centuries has been found by amateur
metal detectors.
A hoard of hidden treasure from across the centuries has been found by amateur metal detectors.
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A hoard of hidden treasure from across the centuries has been found by amateur metal detectors on a Scottish country estate.

The rare finds, which were buried in the grounds of Ardkinglas Estate, Argyll, include three bronze axe heads, dating back more than 4,000 years, believed to be some of the earliest metal tools used in Britain.

The discoveries were not restricted to the Bronze Age. Coins found in different parts of the 12,000 acre estate include cash from the time of Henry VIII, Henry III or IV, Elizabeth I, Edward I and Charles I.

A 16th century silver buckle, and an ancient coin weight, for weighing gold coins, are some of the other treasures uncovered. An 8th or 9th century gold insular mount, which would have been put on a sword or bridle for good luck, was another find.

Grant Maxwell, the administrator of DetectingScotland.Com, said the time range of the discoveries showed the estate had been inhabited over the centuries.

Some of the items were found when Mr Maxwell and another member of the group carried out a dig on estate land earlier this year to see if it was worth holding their annual detectors’ outing there. The initial search uncovered so many items of interest that they returned with about 100 metal detecting enthusiasts, from home and abroad, last weekend to find a wealth of other items including the rare Bronze Age axe heads.

Mr Maxwell, of North Lanarkshire, said the weather was so bad only 45 people stayed for day two – when the axe heads were found by Derek MacLennan, from Ayrshire.

Mr Maxwell said: “We had guys from Estonia, a retired Mountie from Nova Scotia, they came from all over, but the weather was absolutely atrocious and some people left because they had their tents broken while some ran out of dry clothes.”

But the ones who stayed on were rewarded with seeing the rare finds. This was the first time metal detecting has been tried at Ardkinglas, which overlooks Loch Fyne, near Cairndow.

All the items found have been taken back to the Treasure Trove Unit in Edinburgh to be assessed.

Mr Maxwell said: “They (The Treasure Trove Unit) take it all and they decide if it’s treasure, the Crown has a right to anything over 300 years old, anything over 300 years old has to be reported.”

Jean Maskell, manager of Ardkinglas Estate, said: “We are delighted, the three bronze age axes were the highlight.”