The Soberton Armlet,

An Important and rare late Bronze Age solid gold penannular bracelet.

The solid gold penannular armlet is of circular cross-section with expanded dished terminals, its central cross-section measuring 7.4 x 7.1mm. This begins to expand to c.14mm before the terminals, widening to 10.2mm before the terminal flares over c.5mm to c.15mm in diameter at the very end (the internal diameter measuring c.13mm). One of the terminals is bent upwards, away from the other. Both terminals are angled at c.45 degrees and it is unlikely they would abut each other. Both terminals have raised edges c.1mm thick. They are both dished to a depth of 1.7mm at the centre.

Late Bronze Age (c.1100-800 BC)

A non-destructive X-ray fluorescence analysis undertaken by the Department of Scientific Research at The British Museum on 13th July 2016 (File No. 7632-25 2016 T397) indicated the armlet has a surface composition of 82-84% gold, 14 % silver, the rest being copper; its fineness is of approximately twenty carats. The presence of tin cannot be detected by X-ray fluorescence analysis and it may also be present in the alloy.

Weight 129.2 grams.

The armlet was found by a metal detectorist on cultivated land on a summit of the South Downs nearby to Soberton, Hampshire on 23rd April 2016. The detectorist was walking towards the top of a hill east of Soberton when he noticed a strip of differently coloured grass rising in the field before him. He followed the strip and where it met the summit of the hill, he found the bracelet. Being an isolated find at a high spot close to water, it has been suggested that the armlet’s deposition may have been a votive offering.

The find was submitted to H. M’s Coroner and deemed to be treasure under the 1996 Treasure Act. The armlet was registered on the Portable Antiquities Scheme as HAMP-5E48D1 and given Treasure Case tracking number: 2016 T397. The Hampshire Cultural Trust attempted to acquire the armlet but due to lack of funds was unable to do so. It was subsequently disclaimed and returned to the finder and landowners. This is an exceptionally rare occurrence; virtually all significant Bronze-age gold finds are claimed by the State and enter museum collections