The Future Is Here
We may earn a commission from links on this page

Farmer's Doorstop Revealed To Be Rare, Important Bronze Age Artifact

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Go on, say it with us: "It belongs in a museum!" That's exactly what a farmer realized 12 years after he discovered a strange object in one of his fields. Turns out the hunk of bent bronze he'd been using as a doorstop was actually ... an extremely significant 3,500 year old artifact.

The Smithsonian picked up on this History Blog report on the sale of the ceremonial dirk (for $64,272) to the Norwich Castle Museum late last year.

[The East Rudham, Norfolk farmer] was considering throwing out [the object] when a friend suggested he have it checked out by an archaeologist first. In 2013, Andrew Rogerson, Senior Historic Environment Officer of Norfolk's Identification and Recording Service, identified it as an extremely rare and important ceremonial dirk from the Middle Bronze Age, around 1,500 B.C.

Its large size, deliberately blunt edges and the lack of rivet holes where a handle would be attached are what mark it as having no practical use. Dirks meant for actual stabbing are sharp, pointed and can be wielded easily with one hand. This piece was designed for a ritual purpose, which is why it was found folded. Bending a metal object as a symbolic act of destruction before burial was a common practice in the Bronze Age and later.

The ceremonial dirks were prestige pieces, the work of the best artisans money could buy. Owning such a heavy, large metal object intended for no practical use was a symbol of power both temporal and, given their ritual purpose, spiritual.


The History Blog notes that five other similar ceremonial dirks are known to exist, three of which are on display at the British Museum, and that "their dimensions and details are so similar that all dirks likely came from the same workshop, perhaps even the same hand. If one shop is responsible for all of them, it had an impressive reach through ancient trade networks."

Image of the Rudham Dirk courtesy of the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery via