Bronze Age relic found on Wigan farmland

Bronze Age axe head found by Alan and Edwina Abbott
Bronze Age axe head found by Alan and Edwina Abbott

A STUNNING Bronze Age axe-head has been unearthed in Wigan.

Edwina Abbott, who owns Fir Tree Farm in Billinge, never imagined that historian Stephen Hickling would find a 4,000-year-old relic when she agreed to let him search its acreage with his metal detector.

But she admits that, at first, she thought the 4ins bronze axe-head was just “a rusty old piece of metal”!

Mrs Abbott said: “We couldn’t believe it when he walked in and told us he had found a Bronze Age axe-head in one of our fields.

“But, to be honest, we only got a fleeting glimpse of it at the time because we were all so busy.

“If one of us had come across it we probably would have just thought it was an old piece of farm machinery so it’s a good job it was Stephen who found it.

“He was really excited about it too.

“Part of axe-head has worn away over the years but, when you look closely at it, you can still tell what it was.

“Apparently, it would have been wedged between a split piece of willow when it was used all those years ago.”

The axe-head, which has now had its authenticity verified by the Museum of Liverpool and the region’s finds liaison officer Vanessa Oakden, has been dated at around 1850 BC.

Valued at about £300, the flat axe-head is thought to have been created using a combination of Welsh copper and tin mined in Cornwall.

Mrs Abbott, who runs the farm in Kings Moss, near Billinge, alongside her husband Alan, now plans to display the find in a cabinet in the farm shop - along with a collection of Victorian coins which were also unearthed.

Mr Hickling, who detected each of the items using a Garrett 250 metal detector, said: “The axe-head was only about 6ins underground near the driveway where people park. I couldn’t believe my luck.

“I had an idea what it was as soon as I clapped eyes on it and the excitement was too much!

“Some people can go out with metal detectors for 30 or 40 years and not come across anything like this.

“Less than 1,000 versions of this type of axe have ever been found in the UK.”