STOKING the fire to a sizzling 1,180C, James Clift is able to turn a lump of metal into a prized dagger.
The 72-year-old bronze caster made a replica of a dagger dug up at a beauty spot that is thought to be 3,700 years old.
James, a retired electrician and plumber, was delighted with his shiny creation when he carried out the bronze casting at Butser Ancient Farm, near Clanfield.
The dagger will go on display at Petersfield Museum as part of the ‘People of The Heath’ project – a lottery-backed archaeology dig at Petersfield Heath.
Last September, archaeologists began excavating a number of burial mounds at the site and came across fragments of a dagger.
James was able to make a wooden cast from this.
He then melted a mixture of metals – copper wire from a Portsmouth scrapyard, tin and fragments of prehistoric metal – to recreate the bronze dagger.
James used similar techniques that would have been used by ancient tribes in Hampshire all those millennia ago.
‘This would have been a magical experience for people to see,’ said James, of Station Road, Hayling Island.
‘Imagine somebody turning up to the village with a load of grey rocks and producing something that looked like the sun. The dagger would have been a status symbol.
‘The tin would have been from Cornwall and the copper was probably from the Great Orme in Wales.
‘They would have traded them. It probably would have cost a lot of cattle.’
Manning the bellows of the fire was James’ apprentice, retired maths teacher Vivian James.
The 65-year-old, from Liphook, said: ‘I love it. I got a 4,000-year-old axe off e-Bay.
‘It’s amazing to hold something that old.
‘I can take a copy of it and it will live again.’
Maureen Page, one of the directors at Butser Ancient Farm, said the project was about bringing history to life.
She said: ‘Actually, they were really inventive. They used materials we don’t consider now.
‘To use the skills they had is really important. By recreating what it would have looked like originally makes people more able to imagine how the tool or weapon was used.’