Bronze Age barrow discovered in Cornwall

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Excavations of a Bronze Age barrow, discovered near the village of Looe in Cornwall. (PHOTO: SEKAS)

Since 2012, the Southeast Kernow Archaeological Survey – a collaborative effort between Dr Catherine Frieman from the Australian National University and James Lewis, an archaeologist based in Scotland – has seen the geophysical and topographic investigation of many prehistoric sites in the region.

This year, they continued their project at a probable Iron Age site outside the village of Looe, Cornwall, which had been identified by aerial surveys carried out through the National Mapping Programme (NMP). Other areas of interest had been highlighted nearby, so they decided to expand the reach of their survey. In particular, over the hill from where they were working, the aerial survey had detected a possible barrow. After speaking to the tenant farmer of the field, he confirmed that there was indeed a mysterious ‘lump’ in that area. Turning their equipment to this ‘lump’, they discovered a circular ditch with a single entrance and a number of pits in the middle: clearly a Bronze Age barrow.

Subsequent excavation – carried out with the support of the National Trust, and the help of the Cornwall Archaeological Society and the Cornwall Archaeological Unit – revealed the remains of the site. One of the most significant finds was a complete collared urn, measuring approximately 30cm high, which was uncovered just 25cm below the surface. As Catherine noted, ‘It’s almost a miracle that a plough has never hit it.’ The contents have been examined by a conservator and they were found to contain cremated human remains. Along with the urn, Bronze Age pottery and lithics were also discovered.

The team will be continuing their fieldwork in south-east Cornwall, and are currently planning their next geophysical surveys. They hope to return to the Looe area to excavate another prehistoric site near to the barrow in 2019.

This article appeared in CA 340.

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