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Wednesday, 6 March, 2002, 21:36 GMT
Iron Age sword returns to islands
Sword found on Scilly
Decorations remain on the sword's bronze scabbard
A 2,000-year-old sword and an ancient mirror are to be returned to the islands where a farmer found them.

He was working with a tractor in a potato field on the Isles of Scilly, off Cornwall, when he uncovered a burial site.

Archaeologists have spent two years studying the objects, which they believe may have belonged to an Iron Age warrior.

They have been described as one of the most important ancient finds in Britain.

Mirrors also have a role in prophesy and foreseeing the future

Charlie Johns, archaeologist
The stone-lined burial chamber on the island of Bryher also contained a skeleton.

The sword was still in its bronze scabbard, decorated with tiny iron rings that were still clearly visible.

The mirror is intriguing to the archaeologists because it would normally indicate a woman of high birth.

But Celtic men in the Iron Age iron age men were fond of body paint and shaving was just coming into fashion.

Roman clue

There has been considerable speculation about the identity of the skeleton.

Archaeologist Charlie Johns said: "It might have been that they were some sort of warrior priest or priestess, because mirrors also have a role in prophesy and foreseeing the future.

"And one of the few classical references to Scilly, by a Roman author, mentions that Scillonian men and women could look into the future."

Experts have carried out specialist treatment to stop further erosion of the artefacts.

On Thursday they were due to be returned to the islands, for display at the museum on St Mary's.

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