Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Winmarleigh Hoard

The other day we decided to sort the hundred or so CDs currently cluttering up our wardrobe (full of antiquarian notes and archaeological photographs and other exciting stuff) into some semblance of order; a pointless task as it turned out -- we never actually manage to get anywhere because each time we try something arrests our attention shortly after we’ve started: “I wondered where that had gone. Oh…and that! And here’s that missing evidence for Brunanburgh we’ve been looking for.” Etc.
One disc -- well several actually, but one in particular -- turned out to be full of interesting stuff that had slipped our memories. The late, great Neil Thompson originally gave it to us. (It’s getting depressing…almost all of our local antiquarians are now ‘great’ and ‘late’ – I’m starting to think there's something going around that only affects archaeologists.) Amongst the various archives was the following set of photographs, which we’ve compiled (for ease of posting) into one big, fat j-peg. If you want to see the larger, more detailed, version just click on the thumbnail below.

These, in case you don’t recognise them, are the socketted celts (a type of axe-head) found in the Winmarleigh hoard. What do you mean, you’ve never heard of the Winmarleigh hoard? Where have you been? It’s a good job we’re here to set you straight then, isn’t it?
The hoard was found at Cogie (pronounced Koh-jee) Hill, Winmarleigh, circa 1810. They had been buried inside an oak chest, which was held together with oak pins. There were eight socketted celts in all (we’re not sure why there’s only seven in Neil’s photograph…then again, we’re not entirely sure where the photographs originate…we could well be breaking copyright laws without realising it here…but we’ll cross that bridge when we reach it). Also in the chest were a small spearhead measuring eight inches in length, a large spearhead measuring eighteen inches in length and a leaf shaped dagger, all of which were also amongst the photographs on Neil’s CD and, by way of consequence, are now featured on this board below. Again, if you want to view the larger version of this composite photograph just click on t
he picture.

All of these finds were dated to the Bronze Age and are now housed in Warrington Museum. Yes…it does seem like a fair old distance to travel to view our own heritage, doesn’t it? And we were wondering why the hoard ended up so far away too. Well, apparently, Lord Winmarleigh donated the lot to Warrington…very generous of him, we reckon. Anyhow, a cast replica of one of the celts can also be found upstairs in the Grundy Art Gallery next to Blackpool Central Library. Whether the casket and its contents was buried by way of votive offering or because the hoard had some financial reason for being secreted away, we couldn’t honestly say, but we thought you might like to see them (regardless of the quality of the photograph) anyhow.
Now, we often get complaints here at the Fylde and Wyre Antiquarian that we don’t include proper maps with our articles, so at the risk of infringing copyright again (we’ve borrowed this one from Mario Maps), there’s one below (complete with our own additions for added clarity). Again, if you want to study it in more detail, just…well…you know what to do.

Before we leave this article, there’s just time for an update. At the last meeting but one of Wyre Archaeology, Gary Thornton (treasurer) brought in the object shown below. He also supplied us with the photograph, so cheers for that Gary. The artefact was discovered in 2005 at Lathwaite Farm by a metal detectorist. Recognise it yet?

That’s right, it’s a ruler from W. H. Smith’s.
And the object above it?
Well, that’s another socketted celt, manufactured, according to the experts, in Ireland circa 900B.C. Lathwaite Farm is, once again, in Winmarleigh, raising the question, why were our prehistoric ancestors around this district bringing celts in from Ireland and then chucking them away with such regularity?
Answers on the back of a sealed envelope please.


John said...

I don't know where to begin, so why don't you tell us more? Who was doing what in Ireland at teh time, and were they trading with the folks on your side of the water, or moving in, or what?

Cheers, JOHN :0)

PS How did those axes work? Since they are hollow, can we assume they were ceremonial?

Brian Hughes said...


Those are the big archaeological questions...and, to be honest, we don't know the answers. Whether the Irish Celts (as opposed to the Irish celts with a small 'c') were trading with our local Celts or coming over themselves as an invasion force (the former seems more likely) it's difficult to say. Unfortunately both discoveries were made without any proper archaeological records (the first by a farmer and the second by a metal detectorist) which means that surrounding stratification and other sources by which we might have been able to indentify answers have been lost. Hopefully we'll find out one day though.

As for how the 'celts' worked, they're hollow and open-ended because that's where a piece of wood would have originally been inserted. It would have been a thin but sturdy limb, bent at a ninety degree angle to create a chopping axe, the small loop on the side of the celt being bound to the handle with string to help the finished product maintain its shape under pressure. Over the centuries that they've been buried under the ground the wood has rotted away, but, in their day, they were similarly used as palstaves and flanged axes...only a bit smaller.

JahTeh said...

They're mine, give 'em back.
Offerings to a Celtic Goddess in exile.
Thieving Brits.

Brian Hughes said...


I'm going to take the diplomatic route here, as did you own government to the Australian aboriginees recently, and say, "Sorry and all that...but we found 'em so we're keeping 'em."

Jayne said...

Ohhh lovin' your blog!
My Feral Beastie is hankering to be an archaeologist (after digging up several "finds" in our backyard including an old blacksmith's forge) so he'll be a regular reader now !

Ozfemme said...

They were probably hiding them from the bastard Romans.

Brian Hughes said...


Send him over to this side of the planet. He'll be speaking with a Somerset accent, wearing a big hat with a feather in it and shorts that are way too tight for public decency and saying 'Ooh Arh, look at thart!' within the week.


Whilst some of the Romans, I have no doubt, were illegitimate, this site'll be banned from the prudish library computers within the week if I'm not careful. (I'm not entirely sure who they're certainly isn't the foul-mouthed kids round here.)

You can swear as much as you like at my other site, of course. I think that one's banned from 98 per cent of civilised countries anyway.

Jayne said...

He's already got Phil's hat happening but I draw the line on the shorts :P

JahTeh said...

Ooeer, you are read in libraries.

*removes shoes for 10 seconds of respect*

Are all the socketted celts the same size as the 2 inch one? Has anyone done tests as to how much damage these would do to a body or are they only decorative? I know a piece of sharpened flint of this size would slice through flesh but what about these?

Brian Hughes said...


The hat is an essential part of archaeologing equipment. It gives you something to swat off wayward cows and sheep with. The shorts, however, especially in Phil Harding's case, are an offence to public decency and I'm surprised that Parliament hasn't passed an act banning them yet.


We've actually just sold twenty-odd copies of our books to Central Library in Blackpool this week. I'm not sure what they wanted them of the legs on the 'Romance Case' is a bit wobbly I think.

"Are all the socketted celts the same size as the 2 inch one?"

More or less, as far I can gather.

"Has anyone done tests as to how much damage these would do to a body or are they only decorative?"

I suspect the Celts who originally used them conducted a few tests on each other. Unfortunately they're a bit old nowadays (the celts, that is, not the Celts) and any attempt to slice somebody's head open with them might result in a chip coming loose and taking somebody's eye out...which the Health and Safety Executive wouldn't be very happy about.

"I know a piece of sharpened flint of this size would slice through flesh but what about these?"

I don't know. I'll knap some flint and give it a try, but I reckon the celts are probably too tough for the flint to slice into.

dysthymiac said...

"The largest earthquake Britain has felt for 25 years was caused by a maze of undetected faults lying beneath the country. The magnitude 5.2 quake originated from an uncharted crack in the Earth’s crust 3.1 miles beneath Market Rasen, in Lincolnshire ... "

watch it you diggers

Brian Hughes said...


I felt that earthquake last night. But I turned over and went back to sleep because I thought it was just the cat breaking wind.

Iain said...

I'd lived in winmarleigh for 12 years and never heard of 'The Hoard', although I did bury our dead cat in the field next to the church - the next big find.

Brian Hughes said...


It's amazing what bits of history are buried where we least expect them to be. The large amounts of Roman coin hoards around Fleetwood are another example. It's even possible that Winmarleigh was the site of the legendary Battle of Brunanburgh...but that's a different (and extremely lengthy) subject, best left for another time.

If we ever dig in that field next to the church for any reason, we'll keep our eyes peeled so as not disturb any small, suspicious mounds.

Ozfemme said...

well, they were, you know... total b*stards. Oops. I did it again...

Brian Hughes said...


I totally agree. And I absolutely hate censorship in all forms. Unfortunately those child-protection settings at the library are a total pain.

Here's what annoys me. Carol (our local librarian) told me the other day that Google Images were throwing up all sorts of hardcore porno pictures and graphic violence (God knows what she was searching for...I didn't ask), but she couldn't get into this site because the library filter system had thrown a strop.

Makes me wonder why I bother sometimes, it really does.