Recent Roundhouse Excavations in Cornwall. (News & Notes)

By Jones, Andy M.; Taylor, Sean | Antiquity, June 2002 | Go to article overview

Recent Roundhouse Excavations in Cornwall. (News & Notes)


Jones, Andy M., Taylor, Sean, Antiquity


During recent programmes of fieldwork the Cornwall Archaeological Unit have excavated two Bronze Age roundhouses along South West Water pipelines at Callestick near Perranporth and Trevilson near Mitchell. The opportunity to study later prehistoric lowland settlement in Cornwall has been very limited, excavation of the Bronze Age settlements at Trevisker (ApSimon & Greenfield 1972) and Trethellan Farm (Nowakowski 1991) being notable exceptions.

Both of the recently excavated sites are therefore important in understanding settlement activity, methods of building construction and especially the elaborate patterns of abandonment which accompany the closure of Bronze Age roundhouses in Cornwall.

The excavations of the roundhouse at Trevilson have just been completed. Half of a sub-circular feature extended into the pipeline corridor; excavation revealed the base of a circular wall lining a hollow, 7 m in diameter, cut into the bedrock. A gap 1.5 m wide to the southeast was interpreted as an entrance. Within the building a group of three large postholes followed a circular alignment inside the wall. These were visible below the deposits of deliberate infilling, suggesting that there was a single phase of occupation. A total of 40 Bronze Age sherds of pottery were recovered from various contexts within the roundhouse. In addition fragments of granite quern stones and two pieces of slag were identified. The interpretation of the structure at Trevilson is at a preliminary stage, though the pattern of deliberate infilling with deposits containing cultural material is already evident.

The analysis of the Callestick roundhouse is at a more advanced stage and the site is now awaiting publication (Jones forthcoming). As at Trevilson, the Callestick structure was situated within an artificial hollow approximately 8 m in diameter. However the entrance was more complex with a long porch extending from its southern side. Radiocarbon determinations from the structure have indicated that it was in use between 1100 and 700 BC. The structure may have fulfilled a `ceremonial' function, as it was set apart from the nearest identified likely area of contemporary settlement (identified by a subsequent geophysical survey, Linford 1997) and did not seem to have been used as a domestic dwelling. …

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