With the exception of Moncreiffe (Moncreiffe House; MPK3163: Stewart 1985), sites of later Bronze Age metalworking in Perth and Kinross are currently unknown.

The artefactual evidence – which includes the Corrymuckloch ladle (MPK9219; Cowie et al 1996; see Corrymuckloch Case Study) and the ‘bucket’ from Cardross in Flanders Moss (Anderson 1888) – attests to advanced bronzeworking skills at the time, irrespective of whether the artefacts were made locally or imported from elsewhere. The range of bronze objects used during this period in this region also includes socketed axeheads (as seen, for example, in the Corrymuckloch hoard), leaf-shaped swords (such as examples associated with the River Tay, including from Seggieden; MPK3316), socketed spearheads and a ferrule which protected the end of a spear-shaft, a rare socketed sickle, knives, socketed gouges, a chisel, a bronze ring, plus jewellery and dress accessories, namely a swan’s neck sunflower pin and several penannular armlets/bracelets (Coles 1960; Cowie and Reid 1986 and Cowie and Hall 2001; 2009 and 2010).

Late Bronze Age leaf-shaped swords from the River Tay: from L to R: Elcho/Rhynd; Tay near Perth; Mugdrum Island/Newburgh ©️ NMS

In addition to items of bronze, a few Late Bronze Age gold objects are known from the region. Coles lists Irish-style gold penannular armlets from Shieldhill (x2; MPK5613), ‘near Fingask?’ (MPK4659) and ‘Perthshire?’ (MPK3353; Coles 1960, 90), along with a small penannular item formerly described as ‘ring-money’ from Crieff (MPK856; Coles 1960, 91). It should be noted that the gold ‘ring-money’, ‘lock-ring’ and ‘dress-fastener’ listed by Coles as coming from Monzie (MPK854), along with an Early Bronze Age gold lunula from ‘Monzie’, were subsequently discovered to have come from an Irish findspot (see Wallace 1986 for an explanation of how doubt on the Scottish provenance first came about).

The proximity of the region to the Firth of Forth, and the concentration of metalwork deposited in and around the Tay (Cowie and Hall 2001; 2010), suggest the importance of the waterways. Finds from around the Tay of metalwork dating from the Middle Bronze Age onwards, together with the Late Bronze Age Carpow logboat (MPK12214), certainly indicate that this river was utilised throughout much of the Bronze Age and is likely to have been a major transport route (Cowie and Hall 2010). Indeed, it may have been an important medium for international connectivity, providing a routeway from the North Sea in the east to Argyll and Ireland in the west by way of Rannoch Moor (Cowie and Hall 2001; 2010). The sources of the Perth and Kinross metal in the Late Bronze Age are largely unknown, but the copper used in the bronze probably derived from Continental sources, as was the case in much of Britain at this time. It remains to be seen whether the gold was from Ireland.

To a certain degree, the pattern of metalwork deposition echoes that seen elsewhere in Scotland, with a large number of items being found in watery locations, including in the peat of Blairdrummond Moss. Hoards of metalwork pose interesting questions about the connections between different areas at this time and about certain landscapes which appear to be focal points for deposition. As part of the Carpow logboat investigations, Cowie and Hall (2010) conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the Late Bronze Age metalwork deposited in the lower River Tay, and also considered Neolithic, Early Bronze Age and post-Bronze Age deposits. Their assessment demonstrates how the River Tay became a focal point for metalwork depositions from the Late Bronze Age onwards and notes that, although a small assemblage, it is third only to those from the much larger River Thames and River Trent (Cowie and Hall 2010). The River Tay deposits are also the only significant source of river finds in Scotland and, as a result, have much to contribute to the wider discussion. Swords, spearheads and socketed axeheads represent the main groups of metalwork found in the Tay, with other tools including a rare bronze socketed sickle and a gouge also recovered. The condition of these artefacts suggests minimal disturbance over time, so the interpretation of the distribution of the deposits can be made with confidence. The swords in particular suggest a community exercising a deliberate and repeated pattern of deposition in the same stretch of the river over time (Cowie and Hall 2010, 156).

On land, hoards such as Clockmaden contain objects including socketed axeheads and bracelets that are typical of assemblages dating between 1000 BC and 800 BC (MPK3652; Cowie and Reid 1986, 80ff.). Likewise, a group of metalwork was recently discovered through metal detecting at Kinnesswood (MPK17664; Cowie and Hall 2009); it includes axeheads, socketed gouges, a knife fragment and a deliberately fragmented sword. These finds could indicate a dispersed hoard or a depositional landscape during the Late Bronze Age (Hall pers comm). This latter material, which has been acquired by Perth Museum and Art Gallery, and its broader context warrants further investigation. Other depositions indicate affinities with Continental metalworking traditions. The Corrymuckloch hoard, for instance, includes a decorated ladle that is so far unparalleled though it certainly has closer connections with Continental vessel forms than Scottish ones (Cowie et al 1996). Continental connections are strengthened through comparison with other north-east Scottish hoards such as Balmashanner (Angus), Braes of Gight and Glentanar (both in Aberdeenshire) which include Late Bronze Age weapons, vessels and horse gear that suggests links to the Late Bronze Age elites of Europe. The continental Gündlingen-type swords, found amongst the River Tay deposits, are typical of the Llyn Fawr metalworking assemblage from south Wales (around 800–600 BC); they reinforce how connected P&K was to the Continent during this period.