Netherton: Archaeologists Find Mysterious Ancient Iron Dagger During Exception
It was a once thriving community that was swept away by the whim of an aristocrat and then buried by the March of Progress.
But now archaeologists who excavated the ‘lost village’ of Netherton say its inhabitants may have trusted an ancient talisman to protect them from harm – after making a surprising and mysterious find in the remains of the one of the ruined buildings of the colony.
The village of Netherton was discovered in North Lanarkshire during upgrade work on the M8, M73 and M74 upgrades.
Thought to have been settled in the 14th century – placing it in the medieval period – the village was inhabited until the 1700s when it was demolished by the Dukes of Hamilton as they transformed their estate into a tidy and symmetrical park with wide avenues and enclosures.
What was left of the village was then destroyed with the construction of the highway – except for the remains of four houses right on the hard shoulder.
The remains of four houses were found next to the highway
An excavation of these ruins was carried out in 2016 by archeology experts GUARD, and the final report has now revealed a mysterious find totally irrelevant to the rest of the site.
Under one of the buildings, among the foundations, was a dagger that dates back 2,000 years to the Iron Age.
The blade, buried in its sheath and probably still usable when dropped, was found alongside other objects – a fine-grained sandstone whetstone, a charcoal spindle, a game piece possible in green glazed pottery, and two 17th century coins – which date from the time when the house was built.
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The weapon is believed to have been intentionally touted as a good luck charm in the belief that its ancient magic would protect the inhabitants from harm.
“The mineralized organic material on its blade suggests it was sheathed when buried, and was likely intact and still usable at that time,” said Gemma Cruickshanks of National Museums Scotland, who analyzed the ironwork. “The shape of this dagger is indistinguishable from the Iron Age examples, indicating that this simple dagger shape has a very long history.”
The impression of an artist on the appearance of the village
The practice of placing special items in medieval and post-medieval buildings is well documented and was a ritual performed to protect the building and its inhabitants.
In this case, archaeologists believe that “the potential antiquity of the dagger as a prehistoric object” may have lent it a quality of “otherness”. ”
The reuse of prehistoric objects as depositions in medieval contexts has been recorded during church excavations in England, and flint arrowheads were traditionally identified as ‘elf bolts’ and recognized for a long time for their malicious magical properties.
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“The special or talismanic qualities of this dagger as a protective object may have enhanced the ritual act to protect the house from material and magical damage,” said Natasha Ferguson, another co-author of the report.
“The deposit of these objects below the foundation level of one of the houses may have been intended to assert this space as a place of safety for them and for generations to come.”