Stone Wrist Guard

Contributed by Powysland Museum

This wristguard was found in 1989 by the Clwyd-Powys Archaelogical Trust when excavating a Bronze Cairn, near Carno in Mid Wales. The site was dated to c.1800 and had a complex history, undergoing several changes and additions. The burials and rituals carried out at the site also proved to be complex involving funeral pyres and cremation burials. In 1990, further excavations were carried out unearthing another Bronze age cairn. The cairn proved similar to that excavated in 1989 and covered a number of cremation burials placed in pits dug into the subsoil. Some of these burials were placed in collared urns. The wrist guard was found in a hearth on the old ground surface beneath the cairn. It was broken and badly abraded when found. The wrist gurad would have been fastened to the wrist and forearm by a chord pased through the holes at each end. They were probably worn by archers to protect the forearm from the recoil of the bowstring. It is only the second wristguard to be found in Wales.
The item gives a rare insight into the life of Bronze age man, how he may have hunted or fought,how he invented items to protect a vulnerable part of the body.

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  • 1. At 12:24 on 4 August 2010, fugue wrote:

    Actually I think it is important to note that all the recent studies on stone wrist-guards since 2002 have concluded they probably had nothing to do with archery. There is no positive association between wrist-guards and arrowheads in graves. If it were an archer's bracer, it would be expected to be found mostly on the inside left arm of skeletons, whereas in reality there is an equal split between those found on the left and right arm, and those on the inside and outside of the arm.

    Rather recent commentators have edged towards a explanation of them in terms of status symbols; they are always found with men, usual mature, usually in the very centre of a barrow and with other grave goods, especially copper daggers. Some of them are very elaborate, made from distant, hard, colourful stone and containing gold and bronze studs. Others would have taken just an hour or two to make from local slate. Some were clearly never worn and just made for the grave rite, and some are may have been in circulation for generations.

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  • 2. At 12:33 on 4 August 2010, fugue wrote:

    Also, I should comment on this one in particular. Most stone wrist guards in Britain are green, whereas most wrist guards in the rest of Europe are red. This is one of only two or three red wrist guards to come from Britain. The other was with the Amesbury Archer, a proven immigrant. It is speculative then, but not unlikely, that this red wrist guard from south wales may have accompanied an immigrant to Britain, most likely from Ireland. If so it would be just one of many links between south Ireland and wales in the Early Bronze Age

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Mid Wales , Carno


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