The Eastgate Hoard

The first of the two splendid drawings of the Eastgate hoard (the only illustrations we have of it) originally published in 1816, showing 5 leaf-shaped spearheads.
Source: Reproduced from Cowen 1971.

The Eastgate Hoard

The second of the two splendid drawings of the Eastgate hoard (the only illustrations we have of it) originally published in 1816, showing 3 socketed axes of classic form (8-10) and another with an unusual splayed blade (7), a ferrule for a spear-shaft (11), a socketed gouge (12), a socketed knife (6), a socketed hammer (13), and two phalerae, parts of a horse harness (14).
Source: Reproduced from Cowen 1971

The Tortie Stone
Original Location: Hag-Gate, Eastgate, Weardale
Current Location: Unknown
Theme: Ritual/Industrial
Period: Bronze Age
Date: c.1000 BC

What is it?
A hoard of 15 late Bronze Age bronze objects, including spearheads and axeheads, found by a labourer in about 1812 ‘under some large rough stones’ on land near Hag-Gate on the south side of the Wear opposite Eastgate.

What is its relevance to the North Pennines?
Although little is known about the original circumstances of deposition of these objects, they are best interpreted as a ‘ritual hoard’, although it is possible that they were hidden here for more prosaic reasons but never recovered. Many such hoards are known form northern England, often in wet places such as bogs and pools, but very few are known form the North Pennines. It is interesting to note that one of the most spectacular such hoards from the whole of Britain was recovered from Heathery Burn cave, only 5km to the east, but it is impossible to know whether the Eastgate hoard was originally somehow connected with this. The Eastgate objects consist of: 5 leaf-shaped spearheads, a fragment of a socketed sword or knife, four socketed axes, a ferule for a spear shaft, a socketed gouge, a socketed hammer and two thin discs that may have been part of a horse harness. Very similar objects are known form the Heathery Burn hoard.

Why is it important?
The Eastgate hoard is important in its own right as one of very few hoards of prehistoric metalwork known from the North Pennines. It is also of potential value in contributing to our understanding of late Bronze Age times in Weardale, about which we know very little.

The illustrations shown here were first published in 1816 along with Rev W Wilson’s original notice of the find. It is known that the objects were retained by Rev Wilson until his death in 1843, but they are now officially described as ‘missing’. It is known that they survived, in good condition, until 1967, when they were seen in a private house ‘somewhere in Westmorland’. Mysteriously, the location of this house is unknown. It is very much hoped that the inclusion of the Eastgate hoard in the Virtual Museum may generate some publicity that will lead to its rediscovery, and hopefully to its study and publication to modern standards.   If anyone knows anything of its whereabouts, please do let us know!

Further Information

    Text References:
  • Cowen, J.D.  1971.  A note on the Eastgate hoard. Archaeologia Aeliana 4th series, vol XLIX, p 29-36.
  • Wilson, W. 1816. Letter published in Archaeologia Aeliana 1st series vol 1, p13-16.

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