Archaeologists have been left stunned after a local resident with a metal detector stumbled upon an ancient Celtic chariot burial in a field in Pembrokeshire, making the discovery the first of its kind in Wales.
As the Tivy-Side Advertiser has reported, archaeologists who first appeared on the scene were almost in a state of disbelief, but have since concluded that the remarkable find is indeed a Celtic chariot burial. The chariot was unearthed right in the middle of what has been called a “huge” ancient Celtic settlement that is believed to date back at least 2,000 years.
Because of the great historical importance of this discovery, the National Museum of Wales had decided to keep the location of the Celtic chariot burial a secret for the time being. According to Mike Smith, a member of the Pembrokeshire Prospectors, the discovery of the chariot began after Smith first noticed stray pieces of Celtic metalwork that dated back to the Iron Age.
“My first find was a Celtic horse harness junction piece. When I found it my friends said I would never top it, but the next day I went back and found the rest.”
Digging just eight inches into the soil where the harness was found, Smith soon unearthed bridle fittings made of bronze, tools, and a brooch. Despite corrosion having caused these pieces to turn green, they were still elaborately coated with red paint which had not dulled with the passing of time.
After discovering all of these objects, Mike Smith swiftly reported his finds to the National Museum of Wales and the Dyfed-Archaeological Trust, and excavation work commenced in June. Once archaeologists were on site and had dug just 10 inches below the surface of the soil, they recovered rims from two Celtic chariot wheels.
It was very clear at this point that what archaeologists were witnessing was a Celtic chariot that would have been buried along with a chieftain during a funeral rite.
“This is unprecedented. And underneath the chariot there is still the three-meter metal anomaly. If you go by other chariot finds that could be weapons or it could be treasure,” Smith stated.
While there have been other Celtic chariot burials discovered in various locations throughout Europe, in the U.K., they have mainly been found in the northeast corner of England. Because this chariot was discovered in Wales, this would make it the first to ever be uncovered here.
A spokesperson for the National Museum of Wales has spoken of this stunning new Iron Age discovery and explained that there will be a full excavation of the site at a later date.
“Full excavation of the site and analysis of the find will need to be carried out before we can fully understand its importance. The site now enjoys legal protection. A preliminary excavation of the site where the artifacts were found was carried out jointly by Amgueddfa Cymru and Dyfed Archaeological Trust over the summer, partly funded by Cadw. This revealed further significant and exciting discoveries at a previously unknown Iron Age archaeological site. Amgueddfa Cymru is working with its partners on this continuing treasure case and in developing a detailed and fully funded proposal for further investigation.”
Further excavation at the site of the Celtic chariot burial in Wales will begin in earnest again next year once further funds have been secured and the soil is drier.