A FOUR thousand-year-old relic of Early Bronze Age Wharfedale has been unearthed by an amateur metal detector enth-usiast.

Former Deputy Lord Mayor of Bradford and former Craven ward councillor, David Harrison, found the Early Bronze Age flat axe head while using his metal detector at an unnamed location in the Addingham area late last month.

His once-in-a-lifetime find has been examined and verified by experts, who believe it could date back to around 2100 BC, making it the first bronze flat axe of the period to be found around Addingham.

Mr Harrison, 76, of Main Street, said his first reaction was one of total amazement.

“You don’t know what you’re going to find when you get a reading with a metal detector,” said Mr Harrison, who admits that silver foil and ring pulls from drinks cans are among the commoner metal detecting finds.

The distinctive metal object is 136mm long – just over five and a half inches – and weighs around half a pound.

Its once smooth bronze surface has been corroded by its millennia spent in the soil, and it has traces of green verdigris weathering along its edges.

Seeking an expert opinion on the axe head, called took it to the Manor House Museum, Castle Yard, Ilkley, where musuem officer Gavin Edwards took a closer look.

Mr Edwards described it as remarkable to have such a find brought in by a member of the public.

Commoner ancient finds in the area include flint objects such as arrowheads.

“To actually have a Bronze Age axe head presented was quite a pleasant surprise,” said Mr Edwards. “We mainly have flint work like flint arrowheads, metal was still very expensive."

“It would be for cutting trees. It’s a tool as opposed to a weapon, although, of course, as with any tool, it could be used for either.

“More ceremonial ones could have been prestige items, but this was probably a very practical piece and very essential piece for the Bronze Age way of life.”

Mr Edwards conferred with an archaeologist at the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a voluntary organisation which records archaelogical objects found by members of the public in England and Wales.

But there was no need for detailed tests to be carried out, as the piece was easily identifiable to the experts.

“It was absolutely self-evident,” said Mr Edwards. “The shape, the size, the degree of corrosion is unmistakable.”

Mr Harrison is keeping quiet about the location of his discovery, although he admits he has already checked for and ruled out there being any more treasure.

“I’ve been back there and searched all around, and found nothing else,” he said.

Because the axe-head is not classed as high value, Mr Harrison does not have to hand over his find to a coroner, and gets to keep it.

He showed it to fellow members of the Two Dales Metal Detecting Club at the club’s recent meeting in Addingham, earning the honour of ‘find of the month’.

Mr Harrison began metal detecting in the 1970s when he and a friend, both interested in coin collecting, bought a detector.

The axe head has been his greatest trophy to date.

“I’ve found a lot of junk like silver paper, rings pulls, and I’ve found coins, but nothing like this. I don’t think I’ll ever find anything like this again," said Mr Harrison.

He believes the original Bronze Age owner could have dropped the axe, or thrown it at something in what was once a wooded area.