Exciting archaeological finds uncovered at Goss Moor during
Archaeologists working on the £93m A30 Bodmin to Indian
Queens bypass have made a number of new discoveries while
working along the route of the new road.
The route of the new A30 was carefully designed to avoid
damaging ancient monuments or their visual setting and surveys
have been taking place during the initial phase of works on
The results of the archaeological fieldwork will be made
available to the public through a series of lectures and museum
displays. Finds that can be removed will be deposited at the
Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.
The site of the discoveries will eventually be covered by
the new road once they have been thoroughly recorded by archaeologists.
Academic reports are due to be completed by the time the road
is finished in July 2007.
The extensive £500,000 archaeological excavation,
commissioned by the Highways Agency as part of the new road
scheme, was carried out along a 10 metre wide trench along
the whole seven kilometre stretch of the new road.
The most recent discovery is a late Neolithic (3000-2000BC)
ceremonial monument known as a circle-henge or pit circle
found at Deep Tye Farm, about one kilometre south of Castle-an-Dinas
Stuart Foreman, of Oxford Archaeology, which carried out
the excavation work on behalf of the Highways Agency said:
"The Deep Tye Farm site is a modest example of this type
of monument, which can reach quite lavish proportions. Stonehenge
is the best known example. Such monuments were built by the
early farming communities of Britain during the Neolithic
The aim was to uncover any previously unknown sites by stripping
topsoil from large sections of the route, well in advance
of the main construction works and then mapping and investigating
any burial features. Such work helps archaeologists build
a more complete picture of life on Goss Moor, taking the opportunity
of the new road scheme to carry out their work.
Typically henges are a form of ditched enclosure with one
or two entrances. Others like Deep Tye Farm have multiple
entrances and can enclose settings of stones or timber posts.
Such monuments can incorporate astronomical alignments such
as the winter or summer solstice, although this does not appear
to be the case at Deep Tye Farm.
Mr Foreman said: "The purpose of these monuments
is not certain, although it is generally accepted that they
acted as arenas for ceremonial gatherings and ritual. They
were places of ritual offerings, sometimes involving sacrifice
of animals and more rarely people. Some sites also served
as cemeteries for human cremation burials."
The Deep Tye Farm henge is believed to be the first example
of this type of circle-henge to be found in Devon and Cornwall.
Large-scale henge monuments are known in the region, including
the earthwork at Castilly Henge, which lies at the eastern
end of the road scheme near the Innis Downs roundabout, and
the Stripple Stones on Bodmin Moor which contains a circle
The Deep Tye Farm site consists of pits forming a segmented
ditch, 10m in diameter and an inner arc of 10 postholes, with
a large gap facing due south. The postholes may have contained
a simple arrangement of free-standing wooden posts or a more
elaborate structure. No artefacts have yet been recovered
from the Deep Tye Farm site, although sieving of soil filling
the pits may yet recover distinctive pottery, flint tools,
or charcoal that can be radiocarbon dated.
The remains of a large roundhouse, thought to be 2,000 years
old, have also been found at Lower Trenoweth, near Belowda.
The dwelling was probably home to a family of Romano British
farmers who may have been engaged in tin production from the
headwaters of the River Fal, which lie nearby. Goss Moor contained
the most accessible alluvial tin deposits in Cornwall.
Archaeology Foundation Course students from Truro College,
helping the Highways Agency's archaeologists to excavate the
roundhouse site, have found a large section from a pottery
jar which indicates that the structure is late Iron Age or
Roman in date. The jar is hand-made but finely finished and
burnished on the outside, and is most likely dating from around
50BC to 100AD.
The group of 12 students were taking part in a one-week
training excavation hosted by professional archaeologists
from Oxford Archaeology. The date and role of the building
had previously been in question due to a lack of artefacts,
so the find was particularly welcome.
Mr Foreman said: "Excavated sites of this period
are comparatively rare in Cornwall at present, so the site
is an important one for the region. A second similar roundhouse
has been found less than a kilometre to the east, although
it has no associated artefacts at present. The general scarcity
of artefacts from these buildings, their single phase of construction,
the exposed upland location, and evidence from charred plant
remains, suggest that they may not have been occupied for
very long, and might even have been seasonal dwellings or
shelters, rather than permanent settlements."
It is speculated that the buildings might have been used
as seasonal shelters by tinners, although no evidence for
tin ores or working have been found at either of the sites
Mr Foreman said: "Shedding light on early tin
extraction is one of the key objectives of the A30 archaeological
project, as the area is rich in tin workings of the 18th to
20th centuries. Cornwall is one of only two sources of tin
in Western Europe. The Roman writer Diodorus Siculus recorded,
in c8BC, that the late Iron Age inhabitants of the peninsular
extracted and smelted tin ore and traded it to the Mediterranean
region via middlemen, but little is known for certain about
the scale, or the social and economic context, of the industry."
The A30 Bodmin to Indian Queens scheme will ease traffic
delays for local people and visitors alike, reduce accidents
and bring environmental gains to the precious habitat of Goss
Moor and Tregoss Moor.
For further information please contact Walim Wong on 01752
The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the
Isles of Scilly has invested in the Goss Moor and Environs
Rural Issues and Opportunities Feasibility project through
the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF).
||The Highways Agency is an Executive Agency of the Department
for Transport which manages, maintains and improves the
network of trunk roads and motorways in England on behalf
of the Secretary of State.
||The route of the new A30 was carefully designed to avoid
damaging ancient monuments, or their visual setting. Although
the road corridor passes through an area comparatively
rich in archaeological remains, including the scheduled
ancient monuments of Castle-an-Dinas and Castilly Henge,
Bronze Age barrow cemeteries at Saffron Park and Innis
Downs and important 18th to 20th century tin mining features,
careful planning has avoided damage to any of the known
|| The Highways Agency traffic information website is
||For real-time traffic information, the Highways Agency
24-hour voice activated telephone service is on 08700
660 115. (Calls from BT landlines to 0870 numbers will
cost no more than 8p per minute; mobile calls usually
||For general information about the Highways Agency and
its work, visit the Highways Agency website www.highways.gov.uk,
or telephone the Highways Agency information line on 08457
50 40 30 (Calls from BT landlines to 0845 numbers will
cost no more than 4p per minute; mobile calls usually
cost more. Service operates: 08.00 - 20.00 weekdays, 09.00
- 17.00 weekends).
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