Metal detectorist, 13, explains how she discovered Bronze Age hoards near Royston
- Credit: Claire Hardwick/Cambs County Council
A 13-year-old metal detectorist was on a trip with her dad near Royston when she unearthed possible buried treasure.
Milly Hardwick, from Mildenhall in Suffolk, was on a routine day out with her dad's metal detecting group when she discovered two Bronze Age hoards in a field in South Cambs.
After finding axe fragments dating as far back as 1300 BC, the discovery was handed over to archaeologists - who uncovered around 200 items.
These include incomplete artefacts such as socketed axe heads, winged axe heads, cake ingots and blade fragments, all of which are made of copper-alloy
Milly said: "We were on a dig and we were told everything was on the left side of the field.
"We went around for a bit and found nothing. We went back to the van for lunch and then me and my dad went to the right side of the field and I found a signal, and told my dad to come over."
They started to dig and unearthed the first axe fragment, but at first couldn't believe what they had found.
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Milly said: "I was shocked. My dad started digging and held the first one out. He was laughing and joking and saying 'this could be an axe!'
"Me and my dad and grandad were laughing our heads off. My grandad then found a little silver coin."
They went on to dig up around 20 items, which then had to be covered up again to be excavated the following day by professional archaeologists - who unearthed the remainder of the astonishing find.
If the discovery is identified as treasure by a coroner, Milly will be entitled to a reward which will be split 50/50 between her and the landowner, but she said she has "no idea" what she would spend it on.
Milly's discovery was made on September 12, a week after she turned 13, but the full extent of the find only came to light this week.
Since then, she has continued her metal detecting hobby, joining her dad on his Sunday excursions.
She said: "My dad has been doing it for quite a while now, and then I decided to come on a few trips with him because I had nothing to do on a Sunday.
"We still go every Sunday. We were looking to go on an overnight camping trip - going on the Friday and then metal detecting on the Saturday and Sunday.
"We don't know when but around December time - so it will be freezing!"
After the full extent of her find was known, Milly has been surrounded by a flurry of media attention, appearing on the front page of 'The Searcher' magazine - the official magazine of metal detectorists.
Milly's mum Claire said: "I am really proud of her. When she phoned me she was like 'Mum!' and I asked 'What's wrong? What's happened?'
"She told me she'd found an axe fragment, and I asked 'is that good?', and she was like 'duh!'.
"Metal detecting doesn't appeal to me at all, but I'm really proud."
Cllr Lorna Dupré, chair of the environment and green investment committee for Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "We can confirm that what we believe to be two Bronze Age hoards containing around 200 items have been found on land near to Royston.
"These are being treated as two separate but related potential treasure cases as defined by the Treasure Act 1996.
"Included are a variety of incomplete artefacts such as socketed axe heads, winged axe heads, cake ingots and blade fragments, all of which are made of copper-alloy.
“The find was reported to county council archaeologists who subsequently worked with Oxford Archaeology East to ensure full and proper recovery of the hoards.
"The items now await further study, after which a report will be submitted to the coroner.
"If what has been found is declared treasure by the coroner and if a museum wishes to acquire the hoard, then the finder and landowner will be eligible to claim a reward.
"The value of this will determined by the Secretary of State, as advised by the independent Treasure Valuation Committee.
"This is of course a very exciting discovery, but we are unable to say anything further until investigations have concluded."
The entire hoard will be sent to the British Museum in London. The exact location of the find is being kept under wraps, to ensure the site remains intact.