SWNS Milly Hardwick with the ax
A day spent metal detecting took an exciting turn for one 13-year-old girl after she discovered a 3,000-year-old ax under the surface of the ground in England.
Milly Hardwick told The New York Times that she was completely stunned following the discovery of the Bronze Age-era item at a field in Royston in September.
"I was just shocked," Milly recalled to the outlet. "We were just laughing our heads off."
Milly said she had just finished up lunch with her father and grandfather when her metal detector started beeping in the field, indicating that she had found something under the surface, the NYT reported.
After digging for approximately 10 minutes, Milly and her family uncovered an item that resembled part of an ax. They went on to dig up 64 more artifacts, including socketed ax heads, winged ax heads, cake ingots and bronze blade fragments, per the NYT.
All 65 items were taken to the Cambridgeshire County Council's environment committee, where chair Lorna Dupré later confirmed that they were believed to be from the Bronze Age, according to the outlet.
SWNS Milly Hardwick with the ax
The Bronze Age, which lasted from 2,300 B.C. to 800 B.C., marked the first time that metal weapons and jewelry arrived in prehistoric Britain, according to charity English Heritage. Bronze didn't get worked on there until about 2,200 B.C., their website states.
Archaeologists later returned to the digging site, where they were able to uncover a second hoard eight feet away, bringing the total number of artifacts to 200, per the NYT.
Making the discovery even more unbelievable was the fact that it was only Milly's third dig ever, according to news agency SWNS.
"Whenever I go out I find stuff. I've found a gold-plated button and a Queen Elizabeth coin," Milly, who is from Mildenhall, Suffolk, told SWNS. "It's just nice being in the field for hours and you get a signal and it could literally be anything."
"A lot of people have said it's a once-in-a-lifetime find. The other metal detectorists are really pleased for her," her mom Claire, 48, added. "On a couple of digs, people have gone, 'Oh God, she's here now so we might as well go home!'"
SWNS Milly Hardwick digging in the field
According to Peterborough City Council spokeswoman Amanda Rose, it is believed that Royston, where the ax was found, was "fairly well-settled" during the Bronze Age, the NYT reported.
Though not much more information is known about the town during that period, Rose confirmed that the discovery of the artifacts is remarkable.
"It's good farmland with water, and Bronze Age settlements, usually farmsteads or small clusters of roundhouses, are fairly frequent," she told the outlet. "[Bronze axes are] common enough that you would expect to find one, but rare enough to be excited when you do. What's unique about this one is the number of finds in one place, making it a hoard."
SWNS The piece of ax that Milly Hardwick found
Following the discovery, Milly said she has become a local celebrity in her community, according to SWNS.
"Last Sunday, when we were out someone stopped and looked at me and said, 'Are you the one who found the ax hoard?'" Milly recalled to the news agency. "And then another person came up to me and did the same thing."
The young girl, who wants to be an archaeologist, is also waiting to see if a local museum will claim the items, making her eligible for a reward, per the NYT.
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"This is of course a very exciting discovery, but we are unable to say anything further until investigations have concluded," Dupré told the outlet.
While Milly is certainly grateful for the exciting experience, the eighth-grader said she can't help but find some humor in the fateful circumstances.
"The Romans have been there, everyone has been there — and we're the ones to find it," she told the NYT. "It's crazy."