More artefacts from ‘the find of a lifetime’- an Iron Age Celtic chariot burial discovered in a Pembrokeshire field, have been declared as treasure.

The iron and bronze chariot, dating from 50-75 AD was buried whole in a grave discovered on farmland in the Llawhaden area in 2018.

It is the first ever Celtic chariot burial found in southern and western Britain. The initial discovery was made by metal detectorist Mike Smith, who first reported a group of bronze decorated chariot fittings from the locality.

The National Wales: A chariot wheel fragment and sword. Picture: National Museum WalesA chariot wheel fragment and sword. Picture: National Museum Wales

A first group of items was declared a treasure the following year.

The second collection of chariot fittings and grave goods was discovered during a major archaeological excavation of the Iron Age chariot grave in March 2019.

During this excavation more items were unearthed which were today, Thursday, June 23, declared treasure by HM Coroner for Pembrokeshire, Paul Bennett.

The items include:

• The iron tyres and associated iron and bronze wheel hub fittings relating to a two-wheeled chariot, which had been buried whole in the grave.

• Parts of bridle-bits and leather harness fittings, once attached to the pony pair driving the chariot, representing missing fragments of the harness set already found in 2018.

• A complete iron sword and fragments from two or three spears, suggesting the person buried may have been a warrior and a person of high standing within their community.

Although no human bone from the burial survived in the acidic and stony Pembrokeshire soil, the evidence suggests that the burial was once laid out on the fighting platform of the chariot.

The National Wales: Placing the decorated bridle bit fragments. Picture: National Museum WalesPlacing the decorated bridle bit fragments. Picture: National Museum Wales

The grave was at the centre of a circular burial monument, with a soil mound piled over the grave. This monument was placed near to a previously unknown Iron Age promontory fort, also discovered during the archaeological investigations at the site and its surrounding area.

READ MORE: Gold and silver found in Welsh fields declared as treasure

Adam Gwilt, Principal Curator for Prehistory at Amgueddfa Cymru and one of the chariot project team commented:- “This is the find of a lifetime - the first known chariot burial ever to have been found from Wales and southern Britain.

“It dates to the second half of the first century AD, two thousand years ago, when the Iron Age communities of western Britain were in conflict with an invading Roman army.

The National Wales: Two chariot wheel sections, the sword and the bridle bit fragments. Picture: National Museum WalesTwo chariot wheel sections, the sword and the bridle bit fragments. Picture: National Museum Wales

“It provides a fascinating window onto the poorly know Demetae people, the Iron Age tribe thought to occupy this region at this time.

“Speculation still abounds about who the person in the grave once was. The research team is now looking at a community elder or maybe a warrior leader, a person of high status seemingly closely associated in life with the nearby hillfort.

“Our work on unravelling this intriguing archaeological story continues, as we prepare to investigate the fragile artefacts further and to undertake the conservation treatment necessary to care for and present them to the people of Wales in years to come.’ Archaeological surveys and excavation of the chariot grave was undertaken by a team of staff and volunteers led by Dyfed Archaeological Trust with National Museum Wales and also involving Cadw, PLANED and Pembrokeshire College.

Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales intends to acquire this collection of artefacts for the national collection.

Planning work is now underway towards funding and enabling a research programme and conservation of the chariot and grave group, for the site to be published and then presented to public audiences in west Wales in years to come.