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17 August 2004
Bronze Age round house unearthed on Exmoor

The silent earth of Exmoor (England) has given up some of its secrets in the form of a prehistoric home dating back 3,500 years. Members of the North Devon Archaeological Society were thrilled to uncover the remains of a Bronze Age round house as they carried out a two-week excavation at a site near Parracombe.
     It was the third year a dig has taken place on the site, and last year the team uncovered an almost complete prehistoric pot, now on display at the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon. But although nothing as intact was found this time, the group was still delighted when members uncovered a series of stone clad ‘post holes’ clearly marking out where the walls of a round house once stood. The structure would have had a conical thatched roof and measured around 30 feet across.
     "The material coming out looks like middle Bronze Age, from 1,000 to 1,500 BCE, and we have had enough pottery to give a range of samples. The interesting thing is it has all come from inside the arc of posts," said Terry Green, NDAS chairman.
     The dig was funded with help from North Devon District Council, the Exmoor Trust, the Council of British Archaeology and the Royal Archaeological Institute. Dr Martin Gillard was employed as a freelance site supervisor to assist the excavation with his professional expertise. Along with NDAS members, around 30 people volunteered to help with the dig, while several Exeter University students also gave their time to help out.
     The site is close to the Bronze Age burial mounds of Chapman Burrows, seven large mounds on the roof of Exmoor indicating people of importance were entombed there. A visible earth bank in a modern farmer’s field gave a clue to the existence of the small Bronze Age farming settlement excavated by the NDAS. "I am convinced this was an important area in the prehistoric period as it is good farming land," said Mr Green. Geo-physical surveys also showed the existence of fences surrounding an early field system.

Source: North Devon Gazette & Advertiser

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