BRONZE Age relics dating back 4,000 years have gone on display for the first time at the Forestry Commission’s Dalby Forest Visitor Centre.

The collection, including ceramics, jet, tools and part of a scabbard, were found by local history enthusiasts William Lamplough, his son David, and John ‘Ronnie’ Lidster in the surrounding countryside after the Second World War.

Two years ago, the archive was donated to the Yorkshire Museum by the son of one of the men and much of it will now be displayed at the visitor centre as part of an museum project to highlight the amazing pre-history of the UK’s biggest county.

The exhibition opened on Friday and will run until May 2014.

Katie Thorn, from the Forestry Commission, said: “We have never before had this kind of material on show at Dalby, but it’s absolutely fitting as the forest contains no less than 83 scheduled ancient monuments, spanning thousands of years.

“Most of the archive items were found around Bronze Age burial mounds in forests like Langdale and Broxa. Little is known about this period as it was nearly 1,000 years before the Romans came and we have no written records.

“But these artefacts do give us a precious and fascinating insight into life of our ancestors.”

The artefacts were recovered by William Lamplough and John Lidster because they feared barrows would be destroyed by the post-war expansion of forestry.

Today, such sites are strictly protected by the Forestry Commission and each has its own management plan. Indeed, many monuments and earthworks have survived when many similar monuments on agricultural land have been lost under the plough.

Natalie McCaul, curator of Archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum, said: “Since being donated we have been carefully cataloguing, photographing and researching the artefacts. Dalby is the perfect place to show them as we are very keen to link objects back to the landscape in which they were found.

“Simple objects can tell us quite a lot about the habits and customs of people who seem very distant in history but are very much part of our cultural fabric.”

The Yorkshire Museum’s three-year Prehistory in Yorkshire project will focus on the county’s megalithic past, highlighting internationally renowned sites such as Star Carr, along with the Bronze Age and the Iron Age Arras culture, famed for its chariot burials.