Two early Bronze Age axeheads which were found in Westmeath and sent anonymously to the National Museum of Ireland.

Appeal issued over Bronze Age axeheads found anonymously in Westmeath

The National Museum of Ireland (NMI) has today issued an appeal 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, but no contact details or further specifics were provided. The objects were carefully packed, using foam cut-outs and cardboard.

The NMI said it had been able to determine that these flat axeheads date to the Early Bronze Age, around 2150-2000 BC, and represent a significant archaeological discovery.

It said that, given the significance of the objects, the find context - meaning the exact place in which the object is found - was of fundamental importance to the understanding and provenance of these items.

Distribution patterns of archaeological sites allow archaeologists to understand ancient settlements, the museum explained.

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.

For these reasons, the National Museum is appealing to the person who sent the axeheads to contact them directly to provide this information. It said any information received will be treated in confidence, only being used to verify the find location and circumstances of its deposition.

"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," said Matt Seaver, Assistant Keeper of Irish Antiquities at the NMI.

"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."