The se­cret weapons Mys­tery of thou­sands of swords 300 years ago – now they could

Birmingham Post - - FEATURE - Mike Lock­ley Fea­tures Staff

THERE could be an in­cred­i­bly rare and im­mensely valu­able cache of weapons hid­den more than 300 years ago in the earth be­low the very cen­tre of Birm­ing­ham.

And this is not just Brum­mie folk­lore if the his­to­ri­ans are to be be­lieved.

It could be just ques­tion of time be­fore the cache of swords is un­cov­ered un­der Dig­beth as plans for the ex­ten­sion of the Mid­lands Metro line through the area take shape.

If they are dis­cov­ered, it will be a find of huge sig­nif­i­cance.

De­tails of the hid­den trea­sure has been un­cov­ered by The Mid­land Metro Al­liance (MMA), a con­sor­tium of or­gan­i­sa­tions en­gaged in a decade-long project to cre­ate the West Mid­lands’ tram net­work.

It is a body com­pris­ing Auc­tus Man­age­ment Group, Barhale, Bouygues UK, Co­las Rail, Co­las, Egis, Pell Fr­ish­man, Tony Gee and the West Mid­lands Com­bined Au­thor­ity.

Dur­ing the painstak­ing work, his­to­ri­ans and ex­perts tasked with dis­cov­er­ing the lay of the land tripped upon ex­cit­ing de­tails of the buried cache.

When bull­doz­ers move in and con­crete is ripped up, the mass of swords and mus­kets could well be un­cov­ered.

MMA his­to­rian Jamie Har­ris, who stud­ied at Le­ices­ter and Lan­caster Univer­si­ties, told the Post: “In brief, buried trea­sure ex­ists some­where un­der Dig­beth and the re­de­vel­op­ment of the area in the com­ing years by var­i­ous schemes could lead to its dis­cov­ery.”

There is an in­trigu­ing tale be­hind the weaponry.

In 1745, a few Dig­beth residents masspro­duced weapons for the Ja­co­bite Up­ris­ing against the Bri­tish Crown.

But they were never used and were later buried un­der the ground, where they were for­got­ten.

Jamie Har­ris has now found old doc­u­ments that tell of the cache.

One im­por­tant ref­er­ence can be found in The Dic­tio­nary of Birm­ing­ham, a bulky 1885 tome by his­to­rian Thomas T Har­man. He was com­mis­sioned to write it by lo­cal brew­ery boss Wal­ter Show­ell.

Un­der the sec­tion en­ti­tled “Mys­ter­ies of Past His­tory”, Har­man wrote: “It was be­lieved that a quan­tity of arms were pro­vided here by cer­tain gen­tle­men favourable to the Pre­tender’s (Charles Ed­ward Stu­art, aka Bon­nie Prince Char­lie) Ja­co­bite cause in 1745, and that, on the rebels fail­ing to reach Birm­ing­ham, the said arms were buried on the premises of a cer­tain man­u­fac­turer, who for the good of his health fled to Por­tu­gal.

“The fact of the weapons be­ing hid­den came to the knowl­edge of the Gov-

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A de­pic­tion of the The Bat­tle of Cul­lo­den – the fi­nal con­fronta­tion of the Ja­co­bite Up­ris­ing where Bon­nie Prince Char­lie was de­ci­sively de­feated

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