This article appeared in the Autumn 1977 (Issue #49) edition of the Kent Archaeological Review.
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Bronze Age Weapons from Dover.
Readers will recall the exciting discovery by divers in 1974 of an important group of Bronze Age weapons from the sea-bed near Dover. This highly significant collection of about 90 items appears to have been the cargo of an ancient vessel which was wrecked offshore in about 1100 BC (Simon Stevens, KAR, number 43 (1975), page 67). As such the material represents the earliest evidence of a wreck in British waters.
In March, 1977 the Receiver of Wrecks who had held the bronze objects since their recovery from the sea, put the whole collection up for sale in accordance with maritime law. The Council for Kentish Archaeology urged that the collection should not be broken up and that ideally it should stay locally. It was hoped that the weapons would be purchased for the Dover town museum, but the District Council was unwilling to meet the cost and the British Museum bought all the objects for just £500. The divers were suitably rewarded for their hard work and for their good judgement in reporting the initial discovery to Mrs Coveney of the Dover Museum and for seeking the advice of the Kent Unit on further work.
Professor R F Tylecote, of the University of Newcastle (Dept of Metallurgy), was allowed by the Receiver of Wrecks to cut off the damaged edges of some of the implements, for study. His report, kindly made available through Dover Museum, showed that the collection consisted of lead-free high-tin bronzes. The weapons were normally cast in moulds of clay, stone or bronze from a bronze solution containing about 12% tin and heated to about 900 degrees centigrade. Professor Tylecote has also suggested that the cutting edges and flanges would have been hammered when cold to give greater strength and hardness.