The axeheads found in Westmeath that were sent anonymously to the National Museum.

Bronze Age axeheads Found in Westmeath

Two Early Bronze Age axeheads dating from 2150-2000 BC posted to Museum anonymously

The National Museum of Ireland (NMI) is appealing for information about two bronze axeheads that it received by post, anonymously, at the end of June.

The axeheads were accompanied by a letter stating that they were found in the Westmeath area using a metal detector. The sender expressed a wish for the axeheads to be conserved by the Museum. No contact details or further specifics were provided.

The objects were carefully packed using foam cut-outs and cardboard. The NMI has been able to determine that these flat axeheads date to the Early Bronze Age, around 2150-2000 BC, and represent a significant archaeological discovery.

Said a museum spokesperson: "Given the significance of the objects, the find context - meaning the exact place in which the object is found - is of fundamental importance to their understanding and provenance."

The spokesperson said that distribution patterns of archaeological sites allow archaeologists to understand ancient settlements: "For example, hoards or collections of objects are very important as Bronze Age people often deliberately deposited them in different landscape locations for important reasons such as attempts to intervene in the supernatural. Information on where they were found will contribute to a greater understanding of prehistory of Westmeath."

It is for these reasons, the spokesperson continued, that the National Museum is appealing to the person who sent the axeheads to contact them directly to provide this information.

"Any information received will be treated in confidence, only being used to verify the find location and circumstances of its deposition."

The National Museum is currently involved in an international study of Bronze Age metalwork which aims to understand the origins of the metal used to make these types of artefacts. Any information about where the axeheads were discovered could provide crucial pieces of information for this study.

Matt Seaver, Assistant Keeper of Irish Antiquities at the National Museum of Ireland said, “We are very excited about the discovery of these Early Bronze Age axeheads, but we can only understand their true value by knowing their find location.”

“I want to take this opportunity to remind the public to be mindful of the legal obligation to report the discovery of archaeological objects.

"It is the role of the NMI to collect and preserve these objects on behalf of everyone in the State, so that they are available for generations to come – and we rely on the support of the public to do this.”

Mr Seaver said that the use of detection devices to search for archaeological objects remains a regulated practice: "The National Museum of Ireland would like to remind the public of the law around the use of metal detectors for the purpose of searching for archaeological objects," he said.

"Archaeological objects without a known owner remain property of the state and are held as part of our collective heritage in the National and Designated museums."

More information on this issue can be read at and he National Museum of Ireland can be contacted about this or any other archaeological discovery at or 01-6777444.