THEY were in use some 3,000 years ago.
But now a metal detecting fan has unearthed three ancient bronze axe heads in a field in Lindley.
Jason Michael Fallon made the find in August last year.
The Bronze Age axe heads, which date back to 800 or 1,000BC, were officially declared ‘treasure trove’ yesterday.
The Treasure Act of 1996 requires anyone finding ‘pre-historic’ and potentially-valuable items to report it to their local coroner’s office.
An inquest is then held to decide what happens to them.
The axe heads, dated at around 3,000 years old, are currently at the British Museum in London.
It is thought they could be worth about £200 each.
Coroner’s officer Steve Hepplestone told a Huddersfield inquest that Mr Fallon found the items – said to be in reasonably good condition – while metal detecting in a field in Lindley.
The exact location of the find is being kept secret but the landowner has been made aware.
Mr Fallon reported the find to a local museum and the coroner was informed.
Neither Mr Fallon nor the landowners attended the inquest.
The law states that any finds belong to the Crown but when items are declared ‘treasure’ the finder and landowner can request a reward.
In that case the items are valued by a special Treasure Valuation Committee.
Any museum that wants the items must pay that price with the proceeds split 50-50 between finder and landowner.
Mr Hepplestone told the inquest that neither had claimed a reward.
Assistant deputy coroner Dr Dominic Bell declared the find ‘treasure trove’.
After the hearing Caroline Barton, assistant treasure registrar at the British Museum, said if no claim for reward was made the items would be donated, free of charge, to Kirklees Museums Service.
If claims were made the items would have to be valued.
She said a much larger collection of Bronze Age items, including ingots and daggers, found in Suffolk in 2006 had been valued at £1,100.
It is estimated the Lindley axe heads could be worth £200 each.
Ms Barton said the find was quite unusual but around 10 to 15 Bronze Age items were brought to the British Museum every year. The museum deals with around 1,000 ‘treasure’ cases across the country annually.
Ms Barton said the axe heads were in “relatively good condition” but added: “There is some damage to the patina, or surface area.
“They may have been used as timber axes.”
Items are defined as potential treasure if they contain at least 10% gold or silver and are more than 300 years old. Two or more items found together, even if they are made of base metal, also qualify.
In the case of coins, the find is potential treasure if two or more gold or silver coins are found together or 10 or more made of base metals.
The law states that if a find is declared to be treasure then the owner must offer the item for sale to a museum at a price set by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee.
Only if no museum expresses an interest in the item, or is unable to raise the funds to buy it, can the owner keep it.