TWO treasure hunters have unearthed hoards of ancient artefacts.

Steve Tharp of Tatton, Weymouth, and Shawn Miller, of Southwell, Portland are delighted that their latest items have been declared as late Bronze Age treasure at an inquest in Dorchester.

The duo discovered the three items, which include a sword hilt and two parts of its blade – a spearhead socket gouge and part of a Bronze Age razor – in a field in West Dorset. It is believed they date back to 800BC.

Mr Tharp and Mr Miller uncovered it a year ago with metal detectors but the items have only just been released by archaeologists at Dorset County Council.

They are now awaiting the results of the treasure valuation committee and said Dorset County Museum, where the collection is being stored, wanted to buy it from them.

Dad-of-one Mr Miller, who works as a carpenter, said: “It was our fourth find in six weeks.

“Some people do it for years and years and never find a hoard so we’ve been really lucky.

“It’s a nice collection but it’s not worth a huge amount of money.”

The pair know the West Dorset landowner and have found previous items in the field, including medieval coins worth £2,000.

They have an agreement where anything of value is split 50/50 with the landowner in return for their permission. History buff Mr Tharp said it is believed the latest hoard was buried by a late Bronze Age ‘scrap dealer’, who would have collected various broken items from different villages and hidden it. They would have intended to come back with a cart to pick up the load but for some reason did not in this case.

Mr Tharp said: “We went down there one afternoon and turned up quite a lot of rubbish and a few Roman items when suddenly Shawn said: ‘Bang, I’ve found a bit of a sword mate’.

“He called me over and with his kind permission I got to pick things up too.

“It’s really nice to hold something that’s been under the ground for 2,000 years, it doesn’t matter what it’s worth.”

Mr Tharp, who has non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer and a heart condition, added: “We keep doing it because we enjoy it.

“Shawn takes me out, that’s how I get out nowadays and it’s great being outside in the fresh air.”

The pair have now set their sights on a Romano-British site in West Dorset where they previously found more than 100 Celtic coins and a Quern stone.