A Bronze Age treasure, unearthed in Steynton seven years ago, is set to return to its rightful place in Milford Haven Museum this summer.

The 3,400-year-old wooden trough, discovered by workmen laying a gas pipeline near St Botolphs in August 2006, will finally return to Milford Haven following years of preservation by the York Archaeological Trust.

Work on the site was suspended for weeks in 2006 when the Bronze Age relic, at first believed to be a canoe, was recovered from land in Tierson Farm. At the time, a fragment of the oak structure was radiocarbon-dated at about 1420 BC.

Archaeologists now believe that the object was a communal cooking trough associated with a Bronze Age 'burnt mound' excavated adjacent to the find.

Derek Davies, of Milford Haven Museum, said: "These troughs are very rare in Wales, and very few have been found in this country. It may be something of an architectural curiosity, perhaps even a treasure, but academically, it is probably worth a huge amount.”

He added: “It’s a bit of a coup for us, and hopefully it will become some sort of tourist attraction and put the museum on the map.”

Derek said that after the find, the artefact made its way to Newport where it was stabilised by wood preservation experts.

And following mounting resentment in the town over the possibility of 'losing' the relic to National Museum Wales, the oak trough was taken on by York Archaeological Trust where it went through a freeze-drying preservation process.

Milford Haven Museum curator George Springer added: "There has been speculation about how these burnt mounds were used, with ideas ranging from cooking, to saunas for the chief, or even for brewing beer. It is believed that heated stones were placed, or rolled, into the trough to heat the liquid inside.

"The discovery also points to large settlements being present around the waterway at that time."

George said that to house the artefact, the museum will have to keep humidity levels between 45 and 65%, which he said won't be easy for an old building.

He added: "There's still quite a few things to consider, including how it's to be displayed. We are in discussion with experts from National Museum Wales and Lampeter University."

A CyMAL (Museums Archives and Libraries Wales) collections officer will visit the museum next Wednesday (May 1) before the trough is delivered at the end of May.