Aremarkable group of Early Bronze Age artefacts comprising two gold armlets, a copper dagger and two pottery vessels, were recently discovered during the excavation of a barrow at Gallowtree Close, near the village of Lockington in north-west Leicestershire. This completely unexpected find rivals in importance the rich 'Wessex burials ' found by the antiquarians Cunnington and Colt-Hoare during the early 19th century. The excavation was funded by the Highways Agency and was carried out, following competitive tendering, by Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit in advance of the construction of the new Derby Southern Bypass. The unique find was made in September 1994. However, it was not possible to release details of the find until a Treasure Trove inquest had been held. The gold armlets were declared Treasure Trove by a Coroners Inquest at Loughborough in August 1995.
The artefacts had been deposited in a shallow pit immediately outside the main ditch surrounding the burial mound. They were found on one of the wettest days of the year by Mark Allen, a student from Bradford University who was on a work placement with the Birmingham team. He had been excavating a layer of medieval ploughsoil which overlay the ditch when he uncovered the fragmentary remains of two pottery vessels. They had been placed upside down in the pit, nested one inside the other. The rim of the smaller vessel was missing and only a small proportion of the larger, outer vessel was present. It is clear that both had been broken before they had been placed in the pit. Carefully cleaning around the pottery, Mark caught a glimpse of shining metal which looked so new he thought at first it was a modern artefact. It was in fact the first of the two gold armlets. The second armlet was underneath the pottery vessels
Below. The discovery of a lifetime. The first sight of gold, as the bronze age bracelets are gingerly excavated. The discovery was made not in the centre of the barrow but on the periphery.
CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY 146