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Late Iron Age chariot pieces found in Pembrokeshire

By Huw Thomas
BBC Wales arts and media correspondent

image copyrightMuseum Wales
image captionArchaeologists discovered bronze artefacts, the iron tyres of the chariot wheels and an iron sword

Archaeologists have discovered more artefacts at the first Celtic chariot burial site to be found in southern Britain.

Two iron tyres and a sword from the chariot were retrieved during an excavation in Pembrokeshire.

The exact site remains a secret and follows the discovery of decorative objects by a metal detector enthusiast on the same land in February 2018.

National Museum Wales is conserving the chariot pieces.

Archaeologists had suspected they would uncover more beneath the farmland where metal detectorist Mike Smith found a number of objects associated with a chariot.

Following an initial investigation in June 2018 by archaeologists from National Museum Wales and Dyfed Archaeological Trust, a dig was carried out in March and April, funded by National Museum Wales, Cadw and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

image copyrightNational Museum of Wales
image captionThe finds were a "significant discovery", National Museum Wales said

The team discovered bronze artefacts, the iron tyres of the chariot wheels and an iron sword.

Adam Gwilt, principal curator of prehistoric archaeology at National Museum Wales, said: "It is the first chariot burial to be found not just in Wales, but in southern Britain.

"Chariots, as war and ceremonial vehicles, were used to display the power and identity of their owners and tribal communities in late Iron Age Britain, as the fine decoration on these artefacts shows.

"While we still know little about their owner, these chariot pieces probably belonged to a man or woman of some standing within their tribe or community."

image captionMetal detector enthusiast Mike Smith made the initial discovery of the site in February 2018

National Museum Wales hopes to buy the objects found by Mr Smith so they can be displayed alongside the chariot wheels and sword at St Fagans National Museum of History.

image captionThe iron tyres of the chariot wheel are being kept in protective plaster

Dr Kate Roberts, principal inspector of ancient monuments at Cadw, said: "A unique archaeological discovery like this stirs our imagination - we wonder who the charioteer was and about the world they lived in.

"By studying these artefacts we hope to learn more about a time when great change in the shape of the Roman Empire was sweeping across Wales."

image copyrightHeritage Images
image captionAn artist's impression of how the Celtic war chariot may have looked

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