The “Amesbury Archer” is the name given to a Bronze Age man who was discovered in a high-profile grave in Amesbury, near Stonehenge. The man’s body dates from around 2300 BC, so Stonehenge would have been partially constructed during his lifetime, and he was dubbed the “Archer” because he was buried with a large number of arrowheads. The Amesbury Archer burial site contained more artifacts than any other Bronze Age burial site in Britain, being buried with three copper knives, five funeral pots, 16 barbed flint arrowheads, metalworking tools, boar’s tusks, on his forearm was a black stone wrist-guard, and a similar red wrist-guard was found by his knees, with a belt ring made of shale. With his metal-working tools, he also had cushion stones, which function as a portable anvil for copper-working. These artifacts indicate the Amesbury Archer was a coppersmith. The Amesbury Archer was also buried with a pair of gold hair ornaments, the oldest gold objects ever found in England.
The Amesbury Archer was approximately 40 years old when he died, and buried near him is a younger, 20 year old, believed to be a relative because they both shared a very rare hereditary disorder. Based on oxygen isotope analysis of his tooth enamel, the Amesbury Archer came originally from an Alpine region of central Europe, though his younger relative was raised locally. Though some have dubbed him the “King of Stonehenge” or suggested he was important to the construction of Stonehenge, there is no way to determine this. He was, however, deemed important enough to be buried with many artifacts and near the site of Stonehenge. The Amesbury Archer was buried contemporaneously with the Stonehenge Archer, buried three miles away, and the Boscombe Bowmen, buried nearby. The Stonehenge Archer also had flint arrowheads and stone wrist-guards, but the Stonehenge Archer also had arrows in his bone, which probably resulted in his death. The Boscombe Bowmen consists of seven burials, three children, a teenager, and three men. The Bowmen were found with flint arrowheads, eight pots, a boar’s tusk, and flint tools. Lead isotope analysis of the Bowmen’s teeth suggests they grew up in Wales, but left in childhood.
The Amesbury Archer’s discovery is important, in that it is known copper-smelting technology originated in mainland Europe before becoming known in Britain. The Amesbury Archer, buried with copper-working tools, and originating in central Europe, supports the theory that the technology came to Britain through population movement.