'It's powerful': London, Ont., woman finds 2 ancient weapon tips in her garden

Martha McIntosh was surprised to find a pair of ancient arrowheads right in her backyard at her London, Ont., home — and an archeology expert says they may go as far back as 800 and 400 BC.

Archeology expert estimates arrowheads date back to 800 and 400 BC

Martha McIntosh found the two arrowheads at different times but around the same spot in her London, Ont., home's backyard. She quickly identified them as arrowheads because her grandfather collected them. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

A London, Ont., woman was surprised to find a pair of ancient arrowheads right in her backyard.

For about seven years, Martha McIntosh has been patiently digging up a garden in her south London home. 

On Sunday, McIntosh spotted something with an edge while her daughter was moving a plant, and immediately knew what it was. She'd encountered the same thing a few years ago while digging up the ground just a short distance away. 

"You feel it, you touch it and think how long ago it was that someone made it. It's powerful," she said. 

"Even though it does give me a connection to my house, I know that this is from a culture that was here long before us, and it's kind of ironic because we took the land away from them." 

An expert says the Christmas tree-like shape of this arrowhead signals it likely dates back to 400 BC. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC )

Date back to 800 and 400 BC

The two weapon tips date as far back as 800 BC, according to Christopher Ellis, a retired Western University archeology professor and president of the local chapter of the Ontario Archeology Society. 

Ellis said he would need to use a scale and actually hold the arrowheads to give a detailed overview, but said the characteristics seen in pictures CBC sent him are quite distinctive. 

The side notches seen on the arrowhead on the left indicate it's a Meadowood blade, while the arrowhead on the right with its clear Christmas tree-like shape likely makes it a Kramer point. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

The side notches seen on the arrowhead on the left are indicative of the Early Woodland Meadowood culture, and date anywhere from 800 to 400 BC, Ellis said, adding they can be found throughout southwestern Ontario.

Meanwhile, the arrowhead on the right with its clear Christmas tree-like shape makes Ellis almost certain it's a Kramer point, which are found primarily in the lower Great Lakes areas and date back to 400 BC.

Weapon tips tend to stand the test of time because the stone is heavily shaped and worked on in order to make them sharp, said Ellis. The artifacts go so far back that Ellis said it's almost impossible to tie them to a particular historically known Indigenous group. 

"People have lived in this area for at least 13,000 years. They've learned to cope with the environment and their situation in many different ways," said Ellis.

"[These artifacts] document the archeological record, and the things that people have faced over the years and how they've changed. They tell you something about what it means to be human." 

Here's what to do if you find an artifact 

The Museum of Ontario Archaeology (MOA) recommends landowners and others who accidentally discover an artifact report it to the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries' Archaeological office, so the discovery is added to the registry maintained by the province.

"Doing so ensures that knowledge of this important archeological find and Indigenous heritage is not lost, especially if significant land disturbances are planned in the future for that location," said Neal Ferris, the Lawson chair of Canadian archeology and spokesperson for the MOA.

McIntosh said she'll be digging around her yard in case more artifacts are there. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

Ferris said landowners may wish to share their find with volunteer organizations like the Ontario Archaeological Society or the Museum of Ontario Archaeology, who can help identify the artifacts and direct people on how to report them.

Both groups work with local Indigenous communities to train youth interested in participating in digs and restoration. A summer training program now underway involves the Oneida Nation of the Thames and Chippewas of the Thames First Nation. 

McIntosh said she and her daughter had only dug about 30 centimetres of dirt before spotting the latest arrowhead. (Sofia Rodriguez/CBC)

McIntosh said she wants to share her findings with Indigenous groups and hopes to potentially uncover more. 

"I'll have to get back out there in the garden and do some more digging."