An Early Bronze Age arm guard, Debenham

Front, reverse and side profiles of arm guard

This month’s featured find is a Bronze Age wrist guard recovered by a local metal detector user in 2021.

Made from sandstone, the object is broadly rectangular with bevelled edges. At either end are drilled circular holes to enable fixing to the wrist. The faces have been smoothed. Broadly linear striations on both faces are marks left by an archer’s bowstring.

Arm guards were used during archery to ensure that the archer’s wrist was protected from the bow string as it snapped back after firing. This example dates to the Early Bronze Age, associated with the transition from the Neolithic to the Bronze Age around 2300 BC.

Two arm guards were recovered from the famous Amesbury Archer burial, near Stonehenge, in 2002. The burial was radiocarbon dated to between 2470 and 2280 BC. Isotope analysis on the Archer’s teeth indicates he grew up in the Alpine region before making his way to Britain. Recent ancient DNA analysis suggests there was large scale migration from central Europe to Britain during the Early Bronze Age. Fifteen barbed and tanged arrowheads were also recovered from the burial. Together with the armguard, it shows there were innovations in archery and hunting associated with Early Bronze Age migration. 

View the full record on the Portable Antiquities Scheme database: SF-76516B.

Thank you to the finder for allowing this object to be featured.

This find was recorded by the Suffolk Finds Recording Team, supported by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

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