Pre-historic remains unearthed on a Dartmoor

on Thursday, 22 November 2012. Posted in Archaeology

Nationally important pre-historic remains unearthed on a Dartmoor burial site...

 are to be x-rayed by Wiltshire Council conservation experts at Salisbury District Hospital tomorrow (Tuesday April 24). An excavation, co-ordinated by Dartmoor National Park Authority, discovered an important collection of Early Bronze Age remains in a burial site situated in Dartmoor National Park. The discovery could prove to be one of the most important archaeological finds of the last 100 years. Wiltshire Council’s Conservation Service has been brought in to cast its expert view on the finds. Tomorrow Senior Conservator Helen Williams will be taking objects found on the site to the spinal unit at Salisbury District Hospital to see what further information can be revealed with its specialist scanning equipment. A preliminary x-ray already carried out by Helen has revealed further contents of a woven bag found on the site. She will be scanning this and some of other objects.

Helen said: “The level of preservation of the objects within the cist burial is excellent with a number of different materials present. “We have a real opportunity to research these finds and potentially discover more about the individual buried there. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of the team working on such an exciting project.”The burial cist, located on Whitehorse Hill, was excavated in August 2011. The excavation revealed that cremated human bone and burnt textile was placed within an animal hide or fur on top. Also found was a delicate woven bag or basket with fine stitching still visible. The contents inside included beautifully preserved shale disc beads, amber spherical beads and a circular textile band.

Jane Marchand, Senior Archaeologist for Dartmoor National Park Authority and Whitehorse Hill Project Manager, said: “This is a most unusual and fascinating glimpse into what an early Bronze Age grave goods assemblage on Dartmoor might have looked like as it was buried, including the personal possessions of people living on the Moor around 4,000 years ago.” A programme of analysis will now follow to examine the peat surrounding the cist. Studies of pollen, other plant remains and testate amoebae (microscopic single cell organisms) supported by radio carbon dating will provide evidence of vegetation and climate at the time of the burial.There is also much specialist analysis to be carried out on the different items within the cist burial before conservation work can begin stabilising the finds under controlled conditions. This will allow further examination and study of the objects to find out how they were made and the materials used around 4000 years ago.

The excavation was carried out by archaeologists from the Historic Environment Projects Team, Cornwall Council, led by Andrew Jones, with assistance from English Heritage (EH) and Plymouth University specialists.

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