In 2013 a sword was found by metal detectorists near the river Test on the outskirts of Romsey. They originally thought it was Roman but Katie Hinds, the Finds Liaison Officer with the Portable Antiquities Scheme, has identified this as a Bronze Age sword of the "Ewart Park' type which dates from 950 to 750 BCE, towards the end of the Bronze Age. The sword is made of copper alloy and is now in two pieces and not quite complete. The sword was deliberately bent into an elongated S-shape and has broken at one of these bends. The two pieces of the broken sword fit together but the point and the top of the hilt are missing. Over 1000 Bronze Age swords or fragments of swords have been found in Britain most of them in rivers and other wet locations like lakes,marshes and bogs. Many, like our example, have been folded and broken. This is thought to have been a way of 'ritually killing' the sword so that it leaves the world of the living and becomes an offering to the gods or perhaps to the dead ancestors. Other similar swords have been found at various sites especially in the Thames Valley.

There are other traces of Bronze Age people living in the lower Test Valley. There are a few Bronze Age burials and scatters of Bronze Age pottery and worked flint tools are not uncommon. There are also several sites where burnt flint pot boilers have been found. This is flint which has been heated to a high temperature in a fire and then dropped into water in order to make the water boil. The result is a flint which has a crazed surface and is often slightly discoloured. Pot boilers have been found at a number of sites like Michelmersh.

Despite not being uncommon nationally this sword is the only one found in our area and would have been a prestigious item belonging to an important person. What ceremonies were involved with the deposition of the precious sword we can only guess. Was there a procession of people winding their way through the reed beds perhaps singing and dancing? Was there a single individual making a personal offering?

We hope the sword will soon be on public display at King John's House Museum, Romsey.