|17 August 2011
Bronze Age pottery found on Cornish site
One of the most important archaeological sites in Cornwall (England) is under attack from the sea, but now grants have been made to ensure the ancient settlement near Gunwalloe is investigated properly before it's too late.
Excavations could throw a light upon a very long and dark period of Cornish history - archaeologists now believe that the site on the west coast of the Lizard may have been in use since Bronze Age times 3,000 years ago.
"The real beauty is we've got some very good remains," said the National Trust's Cornwall archaeologist, James Parry. "There's lots of animal bones and paleo-environmental information - which means we can look at what animals they were rearing and what plants they were growing and processing. Pottery has been eroding out of the sea-cliffs and has been picked up by local people over the years - some research was done but nothing very much."
As part of a larger heritage project funded by the Rural Development Programme for England there's a move to record and conserve archaeological sites that are currently at risk along the South West Coast Path. As part of this, Dr Imogen Wood and a group from Exeter University have been working with local experts and volunteers, the National Trust, English Heritage and the South West Coast Path team to investigate this site before it is lost forever.
"We've found the remains of a building, lots of pottery and well-preserved animal bones which will allow us to look at what they were farming. Also the team has uncovered some Bronze Age pottery, which tells us there were people here way before the mediaeval period," said Mr Parry.
So the site could be one of Cornwall's biggest mysteries - how was it that people lived there for the best part of 3,000 years, then suddenly disappeared? "It looks like the site was inundated with sand around 1400 AD. It's possible at that point they shifted the settlement and moved inland," said Mr Parry. With the local coastline eroding at the rate of 70 metres every 100 years, it is imperative that the site is investigated further - the present grant will pay for the archaeologists to return again next year.
Edited from Western Morning News (17 August 2011)
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