| 9 October 2014
Neolithic pottery found on Scilly Isles
Archaeologists have discovered one of the largest hauls of Neolithic pottery in the south west on St Martin's in the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall (England). Thousands of pottery shards, dating back between 3,500 and 3,000 BCE, have been uncovered thanks to a project run by volunteers.
Reading University lecturer and archaeologist Dr Duncan Garrow headed the Stepping Stones project with Fraser Sturt, of Southampton University. Dr Garrow said: "In 2013 we mainly dug small two metre by two metre test pits and this time we were looking for buildings and made a much larger 10 by 12 metre trench. We found about 30 post holes which might have been successive structures. There weren't any coherent buildings, however, like neat rectangles, which is always a bit annoying, but is the way it is. Also found were thousands of pottery shards and flint, and one pit yielded thick layers of charcoal about which we are not sure - containing material, rock crystals and a pierced pebble necklace or amulet."
A series of test pits in an adjoining field "had more post holes and absolutely loads of material" but overall the best find was "a nice Cornish greenstone stone mace head, like a Neolithic axe, with a hole through the middle. This process would have taken hours of work, as at the time people did not have metal tools and would have had to grind out the hole using a wooden bow drill and abrasive sand from the beach. The 'mace-head' may thus have been an important prestige object."
The encroachment down the years had pitched the site "literally on the coastal uplands" from what was then a central plain. There would have been a big flat, possibly marshy terrain in the middle when Scilly was one with all the islands. Radio carbon dating would be done on this year's finds.
Edited from The Cornishman (6 October 2014)
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