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Axes sold on ebay to be given to Aylesbury Museum

[One to sigh and shake your head at]

Rare bronze-age treasures were sold on eBay for £205, a coroner heard yesterday. Five bids were made and the axe heads were shipped over to Dutch collector Jeroen Zuiderwijk, who paid just a fraction of their real value. Luckily however, the archaeologist, an experimental metallurgist at a theme park, got in touch with UK museum authorities. The find was described by expert Ros Tyrrell as only the second ever bronze-age collection to be found in the Buckinghamshire area.

The series of 15 axe heads was believed to have been dug up using metal detectors by a couple known as Stuart and Tracey, from the Milton Keynes area of Buckinghamshire. When the couple moved to France in 2004 they gave the find to friends John Couchman and Lorraine Ayton who promptly put them up for sale on eBay.

"It would have been such a waste if they had been sold individually," Ms Tyrrell told the inquest in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. "Now the hoard will stay together and will be available to see if people want to study it. You can only study what is available and this will be a valuable addition to our collection."

The axe heads, held by the British Museum, are set to be handed to the Buckinghamshire County Museum in Aylesbury. Yesterday at the treasure trove inquest, Milton Keynes coroner Rodney Corner formally declared that the treasure belonged to the Crown. Since the 1996 Treasure Act, finders are no longer keepers and must report any objects more than 300 years old. However, the coroner heard that a lot of treasure was never handed in by unscrupulous metal detectors known as "night hawks" who only operated under cover of darkness.

"We are very grateful to Mr Zuiderwijk. He could have kept quiet and we would never have known. We would have lost our ability to study them," Ms Tyrrell added. "These axe heads were high-tech in their day. They looked really swanky with their gold colouring."

edited from the story by Fred Attewill at
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd December 2005ce
Edited 17th February 2006ce

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