Searching a field in Wales, a man with a metal detector stumbled upon an artifact buried 2,000 years ago — then he found another.
Metal detectorist Jon Matthews was exploring a pasture in Llantrisant Fawr in March 2019 when he found something, the National Museum Wales said in an April 28 news release shared with McClatchy News.
Matthews dug up the artifact and quickly realized there was a collection of buried treasures, Adelle Bricking, an archaeologist who worked on the excavation, wrote on Twitter. He contacted local archaeological authorities who excavated the area.
Archaeologists identified the 2,000-year-old treasures as Iron Age and ancient Roman pottery vessels, the release said. Eight objects, including two complete pieces, were unearthed from the field.
The artifacts were likely buried together “around the time of the Roman conquest, in the second half of the first century A.D.,” the release said.
One artifact included an ox head bowl handle, photos show. The blue-green metal design has a wide-eyed ox with bowed horns. His lower lip or jaw extends outward into the handle-like loop.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Matthews told Wales Online. “I didn’t think our ancestors could make such a beautiful, beautiful thing. I was quite shocked.”
The excavation team nicknamed the ox “Bovril,” Bricking said. “Imagine our surprise when we flicked off the mud and exposed Bovril’s adorable little face!!!” she wrote.
Excavations also unearthed fragments of two wooden barrels, “an Iron Age bucket with copper alloy fittings; an Iron Age copper alloy... cauldron and strainer; and two Roman copper alloy saucepans,” experts said.
Photos show the ancient Roman saucepan and broken handle.
A pair of metal bucket mounts found at the site have a swirling orange-black design on them, photos show. Other photos show the worn wooden bucket with two rows of metal fittings along the edge.
“I feel honored to have found something so unique that is linked to Wales and our ancestors,” Matthews said in the news release.
The National Museum Wales is interested in acquiring the artifacts after an independent committee has assessed their value, the release said.
Llantrisant Fawr is about 135 miles northwest of London.