A team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester have discovered a 2,000-year old bronze that must have been part of a war chariot and possibly used in some ritual sacrifice. The pieces of chariot parts were discovered at a dig in Burrough Hillron Age Hillfort, near Melton Mowbray in Leicester, England, and it is said to date back to the second or third century BC.
The discovery was made by four archaeology students at the Burrough Hill fort, and this is largely because the area is used to train archaeology students for field projects. Several other bronze pieces were also discovered in regions close to this part, and the leader and co-director of the archaeology team, Jeremy Taylor says “this is the most remarkable discovery of material we made at Burrough Hill in the five years we worked on the site. This is a very rare discovery and a strong sign of the prestige of the site.”
According to the researchers, some of the bronze pieces include linchpins decorated with caps at the end, rings and fittings that must have held harnesses, and other metal remains that indicated the chariot must have belonged to a warrior or noble. A decorated linchpin has wavy lines that looked like the flag of the Isle of Man, and this further excites the researchers.
According to Taylor, “the atmosphere at the dig on the day was a mix of ‘tremendously excited’ and ‘slightly shell-shocked’. I have been excavating for 25 years, and I have never found one of these pieces – let alone a whole set. It is a once-in-a-career discovery.”
The bronze set was discovered on a layer of chaff that could have been fuel for ritual burning. They were placed in a box and covered with cinder and slag after being set afire. Archaeologists from the University of Leicester believe the way the set was discovered showed it might have been a ritual for the close of season, or to dismantle and close a home at the fort thousands of years ago.