September 10, 2021 11.18 am This story is over 32 months old

Rare Bronze Age coffin with remains of man and axe found on Lincolnshire golf course

It will be coming to The Collection soon

By Local Democracy Reporter

The Collection Museum in Lincoln will soon be home of an incredibly rare wooden coffin, dating back to the Bronze Age, that was found with the remains of a man inside at a golf course in Lincolnshire.

The incredible find was made at Tetney Golf Club in July 2019, during works to a pond on the course after a spell of hot weather.

The log coffin and its contents – the remains of a man who had been buried with an axe – is thought to date back around 4,000 years to the Bronze Age.

Around 65 early Bronze Age log coffins have been found in Britain, and it is rare for them to survive. | Photo: Historic England

It is slightly longer than a telephone box, standing at around three metres long and one metre wide, and was made from hollowing out a tree trunk, with plants used to cushion the body.

A gravel mound was raised over the grave, a practice that could only be afforded to people with high status within society during the Bronze Age.

The artefacts were put into cold storage for a year to be assessed before being moved to York Archaeological Trust to undergo preservation work.

An incredibly rare axe was also found in good condition inside the coffin. | Photo: Historic England

Once this work is complete it will all be moved to the Collection Museum in Lincoln, offering a remarkable piece of history right here in our county.

The axe that was found is thought to be extremely rare, with only 12 known from Britain, and it is even more astonishing that the wooden haft has survived over the years along with the stone head.

Archaeologists are suggesting the axe is more a symbol of authority than a practical tool, and the coffin suggests the person buried was of high social standing.

The coffin was created by carving a fast-growing oak tree, and likely used by someone of high social status. | Photo: Historic England

Tim Allen, of Historic England, said: “The man buried at Tetney lived in in a very different world to ours but like ours, it was a changing environment, rising sea levels and coastal flooding ultimately covered his grave and burial mound in a deep layer of silt that aided its preservation.

“It took teamwork from everyone involved plus grant funding from Historic England to make sure the opportunity wasn’t lost. Bronze Age log coffins are rare and for them to survive after their discovery is even rarer.  Once the wet wood was out of the ground there wasn’t long to react.”

The axe, along with the coffin, will be taken to the Collection Museum in Lincoln once preservation works are complete. | Photo: Historic England

Speaking about the coffin soon coming to the Collection Museum, councillor Lindsey Cawrey, executive councillor for culture at Lincolnshire County Council, said: “This is such an exciting find for Lincolnshire and I can’t wait to welcome it to our museum collection.

“The preservation of the axe and handle, and the coffin timbers, is astonishing, and we’re looking forward to being able to share the story of the discovery, and the results of the scientific analysis, with researchers and visitors to The Collection Museum when the finds are conserved and ready to come to Lincoln.  We’ll be able to provide access to these important finds for future generations.”