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Beginner's luck

Started by gash, August 25, 2020, 11:07:24 am

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Beginner's luck: The graduate archaeologist who unearthed Havering Hoard on his first dig

A young archaeologist unearthed the first item of what became London's largest collection of buried Bronze Age treasures on his first professional dig.

Harry Platts's discovery of a 3,000-year-old axe in summer 2018 was the first of 453 artefacts found on a site on the northern edge of the Thames in Rainham.

The haul, dating between 800 and 900 BC, became known as the "Havering Hoard" -- the third largest of its kind ever unearthed in the UK.
That the "once in a lifetime" find was unearthed by a relative rookie was revealed today as the Museum of London announced the collection is to go on display next month. Mr Platts, 23, a former archaeology student at University College London, was on a six-week temporary contract for Archaeological Solutions when he struck gold.

The site, overseen by Historic England, had been identified as an area of interest since the Sixties through aerial photographs.

Four weeks into the job, at about 2.30pm on a Friday, Mr Platts, who is from Dover, Kent, spotted a patch of green in his area.

He told the Evening Standard: "I was wrapping up for the weekend and I saw this patch of green on the edge of my section. I thought it might be a stone or something but then it started to look very much like an axe. I literally called everyone over and we all stared at it. And then more patches of green began to emerge around it. It was mad."

Mr Platts, who is now studying for a masters in medieval archaeology at York University, added: "I did about five hours of overtime that night. I had everything in to make myself a roast dinner when I got home from work. I still made it at 10pm when I got home and had a few beers to celebrate. Some archaeologists don't have a discovery like that throughout their career. So it was career defining. It may never happen again. So yes, I celebrated." Mr Platts's axe and the 452 other objects will be displayed in Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery, a free exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands, from September 11.
The collection, which includes swords, spearheads, bracelets and terret rings, used to stop reins tangling on carts, was supposed to have gone on display in April but the museum was shut due to lockdown.

Experts believe the rare collection might suggest a specialist metal worker operated in the area.

Kate Sumnall, curator of archaeology at the museum, said: "The Havering site is particularly important due to its proximity to the marshes and the Thames, allowing people to travel widely on boats to exchange materials and goods."

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