Archaeologists have discovered a 2,000 year-old Iron Age chariot, whose pieces were burnt and buried, supposedly as a religious offering, according to the research paper.
Digging near Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire, England, an archaeology team from University of Leicester discovered a trove of bronze chariot fittings dating back to the second or third century B.C. The remains were discovered at the Burrough HillIron Age Hillfort, a fortified hilltop structure that was once surrounded by farms and settlements. Though humans lived in the area beginning around 4000 B.C., it was used most heavily between about 100 B.C. and A.D. 50, according to the University of Leicester.
“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,” University of Leicester archaeologist Jeremy Taylor said in a statement.
The pieces are the metal remains of a chariot that once belonged to a warrior or noble, according to university archaeologists. They include linchpins with decorated end caps, as well as rings and fittings that would have held harnesses. One linchpin is decorated with three wavy lines radiating from a single point, almost like the modern flag for the Isle of Man, a British dependency in the Irish Sea. The Isle of Man’s flag is decorated with an odd symbol called a triskelion, or three half-bent legs converging at the thigh.
“The atmosphere at the dig on the day was a mix of ‘tremendously excited’ and ‘slightly shell-shocked,'” Taylor said. “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.”
Four archaeology students first found a piece of bronze near an Iron Age house within the Burrough Hill fort.
After the bronze fittings were burnt, whoever buried them laid a layer of cinder and slag over it, but the burial may have also been meant to mark a new season. The scientists also said the remains went untouched for the 2,200+ years between burial and discovery.
“The function of the iron tools is a bit of a mystery, but given the equestrian nature of the hoard, it is possible that they were associated with horse grooming,” project co-director John Thomas said in a press release.
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