Remnants from a Bronze Age society have been found at a building site in Crantock. The site, Halwyn Meadows, developed by Legacy Properties, has revealed two pits, thought to be graves, containing three Beaker vessels dating between 2400 and 2000B.C.
One of the beakers is the most intact example of early Bronze Age pottery to be found in the county in decades, and represents an era of migration and trading associated with Bell Beaker people.
From 2500B.C, an influx of migrants from Europe settled in Britain. They were called Bell Beaker Folk because of the shape of their pottery which is often to be found in their graves.
They are associated with the earliest metal working in Britain, working first with copper and gold and later in bronze, which may provide a clue as to why they appear to have settled in Cornwall, an area rich in metal minerals.
The dig was led by South West Archaeology following a geophysical survey and archaeological evaluation, a requirement for planning, demonstrated the archaeological potential of the site.
An excavation found two pits, lined with slate and capped with quartz, most likely to have been graves. The first pit contained two Beaker vessels and the second contained an intact beaker, standing approximately 300mm high.
Dr Bryn Morris, director at South West Archaeology said: “The village of Crantock is notable for its archaeological finds, particularly from medieval times when it was an important ecclesiastical centre, but this is a very rare find and provides further evidence of the cultural influence of the Bell Beaker Folk in Cornwall.”
Early Beaker settlers would have recovered metal ores from river gravels and stream beds, rather than mine mineral ores. The River Gannel and its various tributaries may well have provided the Beaker Folk with the metal ore from which they were able to work and trade.
The Beaker Folk were farmers and archers, wearing stone wrist guards to protect their arms from the sting of the bowstring. Flints were also found within some of the pits at Halwyn Meadows, indicating that whoever was buried there was buried with the items that distinguished them from other cultures in the UK.
Work on Halwyn Meadows continues, to provide a modern-day settlement of two, three, four and five bedroom contemporary homes and one of the roads will be named after the archaeological finds – Bell Gardens.
Nick Long, managing director at Legacy Properties said: “Excavating some rare finds on our site is exciting. Without the area being under development, this evidence of our history would have remained buried forever. We are delighted to be able to work with our archeological historians to uncover a historical story that would otherwise have gone untold.”
The beaker is currently being held by South West Archaeology, and it is hoped to be made available for public viewing at the Royal Cornwall Museum.