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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2007, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Iron Age sword discovered again
Ben Robinson and sword
The sword is thought to be more than 2,000 years old
An Iron Age sword which was stolen from a Cambridgeshire museum 13 years ago has been returned after it was spotted at an auction in Germany.

The weapon was first unearthed during gravel extraction at Orton Longueville in the 1980s and displayed at Peterborough Museum.

The sword, stolen in 1994, and its scabbard were spotted by collectors in Germany and returned to the city.

Council archaeologists described the sword's recovery as "miraculous".

Experts at the museum said it had disappeared without trace for 13 years, but a prominent marking which looks like a hand on the sword had helped collectors identify it.

"This sword along with two others and several other fascinating items were recovered from an old river bed," Ben Robinson, Peterborough City Council archaeologist, said.

"They had been placed in the River Nene as offerings during the Iron Age, more than 2000 years ago.

"Some watery places were especially sacred to prehistoric people and valuable items were given to the gods at special locations.

"The iron sword and its bronze scabbard are especially important - they are among the finest examples known in Britain and have several unique features that have helped experts to confirm their identity."

An archaeologist said the return of the ancient sword was miraculous

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