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Unearth the mystery of the Havering Hoard in the Museum of London Docklands’ new exhibition

Above: Site image of one part of the Havering Hoard. Upon discovery, the objects within each hoard were carefully placed and densely packed. Image: © Archaeological Solutions

The largest Bronze Age hoard ever to be discovered in London, and the third largest in the UK, will be the focal point of Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery, the Museum of London Dockland’s new major exhibition that opens today, Friday 11 September. 

The exhibition will put the 453 tools, weapons and other objects that make up the entirety of the hoard on display to the public for the very first time. Displaying the hoard alongside objects from both the archaeological site itself and the museum’s collection, the exhibition digs deep into Bronze Age life during a time when the land where London now exists was a very different place. 

Starting with the moment of discovery, Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery will take visitors on a journey back through time to explore the mysteries, myths and realities surrounding the hoard’s burial.  

Above: First image: Excavating the Havering Hoard. No evidence of a bag or container were discovered but pieces of straw, used as packing material, were found adhering to some of the objects. Image: © Archaeological Solutions.

Second image: A selection of objects from the Havering Hoard. Image: © Museum of London

Highlights include:

  • All 453 never seen before objects from the Havering Hoard 

  • Objects from the Museum of London’s permanent collection including Bronze Age crania showing evidence of blunt force trauma, telling a wider story of Bronze Age life thousands of years ago

  • Immersive photography and film projection recreating the experience of a Bronze Age landscape

  • A map from the Portable Antiquities Scheme displaying the location of more than 1,500 hoards across England and Wales helping to plot settlements on a wider scale

  • 3D renderings of some of the key objects from the hoard to allow closer examination including a terret ring, a sword fragment and a socketed axe head – all exceptionally rare examples of Bronze Age life 

Above: X-ray of mini-hoard from within the Havering Hoard. These x-rays reveal ‘mini hoards’ where objects have been placed inside the sockets of axes and spears. It is difficult to say precisely how many objects are contained within and so the total size of the Havering Hoard is unknown. Image: © Drakon Heritage and Conservation

The design of the exhibition is arranged around the movement of the sun, its rise in the east and setting in the west, bringing the discovery of the Hoard to life. Starting with the moment the first object was found as the sun set late on a Friday evening in September 2018, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the wonder of uncovering such a significant find.

Clues left by the hoard about the people who lived and worked in the area during the Late Bronze Age will be examined before exploring how connected their society was to Europe almost 3,000 years ago. Visitors will then find themselves back in the present day, with a chance to examine some of the objects in greater detail while finding out more about the people involved in the discovery of the Havering Hoard and the work that’s still to be done. 

Agricultural tools from the Havering Hoard, the Museum of London’s permanent collection and the Layton Collection. This range of tools reflect a society that used the land and include axes and sickles as well as wood-working tools such as gouges and awls. Image: © Museum of London/Layton Collection

Kate Sumnall, Curator of Archaeology at the Museum of London, said: “We are excited to finally open the doors of Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery and invite our visitors to immerse themselves in everything from the landscapes of the Late Bronze Age period right through to the present day and the incredible moment of discovery. The Havering Hoard can tell us many stories about the people who lived and worked in London 3,000 years ago and we explore many of these in the exhibition.

However, it also reinforces the importance of the archaeological process to our understanding of history. By highlighting the work of those involved, from the archaeological unit to the researchers and specialists, we hope to invite visitors behind-the-scenes and shine a new light on significant work taking place that you may not ordinarily see. As part of this process, we extend our thanks to Archaeological Solutions, Historic England and Havering Museum for their help in bringing the Havering Hoard to life.”

Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery 

Museum of London Docklands 

Showing from: Friday 11 September 2020 – Sunday 18 April 2021 

Free with timed entry ticket to the museum


About the Museum of London Docklands

The Museum of London Docklands is located at West India Quay in east London. Opened in 2003, this grade one listed converted Georgian sugar warehouse specifically tells the story of the port, river and city – focusing on trade, migration and commerce in London.

The museum is open Monday – Friday 11.30am – 3.30pm and Saturday & Sunday 10am – 6pm and is FREE to all. Please book a free general admission ticket in advance of visiting the museum. You can explore the Museum of London Docklands with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more added regularly.


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