(Phys.org) — Excavations are underway to unearth the mysteries of Devon’s newly discovered settlement dating back to Roman times.
Following the recent discovery of over 100 Roman coins in fields several miles west of Exeter, evidence of an extensive settlement including roundhouses, quarry pits and track ways was found from a geophysical survey. The site covers at least 13 fields and it the first of its kind in Devon which could force us to rewrite the history of the Romans in Britain.
Dr Ioana Oltean and Dr Martin Pitts, the University of Exeter’s Roman archaeology specialists, together with Danielle Wootton, Devon Finds Liaison Officer for the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), Sam Moorhead, National Finds Adviser for Iron Age and Roman coins for the PAS at the British Museum, and Bill Horner, County Archaeologist at Devon County Council are leading the archaeological research which is proving to show the influence of Roman culture to be greater than previously thought. Read more.
The vessel, carrying copper and tin ingots used to make weapons and jewellery, sank off the coast near Salcombe in Devon and is thought to date from 900BC.
But it was only last year that the South West Maritime Archaeological Group, a team of amateur archaeologists, brought its cargo to the surface.
The discovery was not announced until this month’s International Shipwreck Conference, in Plymouth, Devon.
It is thought that the goods - 259 copper ingots and 27 of tin - were destined for Britain but collected from several different sources in Europe.
The discovery reveals the high level of sophistication maritime trade in Europe had reached, even in ancient times.Tin ingots from this period have not been found in Britain before. Read more.
A coffin on display at a museum in Devon is a rare 3,500-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus, it has emerged.
Torquay Museum were unaware of the coffin’s significance until an expert from Bristol University identified it as one of only two in the country.
Dr Aidan Dodson, who is cataloguing the country’s Egyptian artefacts, believes the coffin pre-dates the mummified boy’s body it contains by 1,000 years.
He said: “It’s very significant as very few coffins of that period survive.”
The highly decorated sarcophagus and the mummified remains of a boy, aged between three and four, were donated to the museum in the 1950s.
But the artefacts were kept in storage for years and rarely displayed until 2007 when they were selected as the centrepiece of an Egyptian exhibition.
“When I walked into the museum for the first time I realised that the coffin was something really special,” said Dr Dodson. Read more.
Columns from a Norman crypt which were excavated in August have been re-buried indefinitely, at a Devon church.
Two columns with intricate carvings were unearthed at St Stephen’s Church on Exeter High Street.
It was the first time they had been seen since an excavation in 1826.
It had been hoped the columns would go on display, but the masonry was considered unsafe and the columns have now been re-buried.
Archaeologist Stewart Brown said: “There are only two known crypts in Devon and Cornwall and the other one’s a Saxon crypt.
“This one has columns and is altogether more grand.”
The two columns, which would have supported the roof of the crypt were topped by capitals with carved foliage.
Mr Brown said the columns had cathedral grandeur and were probably the last surviving parts of the crypt. Read more.
An early Bronze Age burial chest containing cremated bones and material dating back 4,000 years has been excavated on Dartmoor.
The collection of artefacts could be one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the last 100 years, experts have said.
Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA) said the stone-built chest or ‘cist’ - which was used for the burial of ashes - was discovered at Whitehorse Hill in Devon, one of Dartmoor’s highest peaks.
As well as human remains, other items were found including leather, a woven basket or bag and amber beads preserved in peat.
Jane Marchand, senior archaeologist for DNPA and the 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 when it was buried, including the personal possessions of people living on the moor around 4,000 years ago.’ Read more.
A former Devon taxi driver’s body has been mummified in a project to test the processes used 3,000 years ago.
Alan Billis from Torquay died in January aged 61 after contracting lung cancer.
Mr Billis read a news story about a Channel 4 mummification project and decided to donate his body to the experiment after his death.
His wife Jan said: “I’m the only woman in the country who’s got a mummy for a husband.”
Dr Stephen Buckley and archaeologist Dr Jo Fletcher used modern equipment to identify materials such as beeswax, oils and resins used in mummification by ancient Egyptians. Read more.
An ancient Iron Age settlement has been uncovered by archaeologists working for South West Water in Devon.
It was found during an archaeological evaluation of the route of a new water mains between Beacon Hill reservoir, near Exeter, and the town of Cranbrook.
Archaeologists were investigating a large prehistoric enclosure below the ground which was discovered by carrying out surveys from the air in 1996.
Among the finds were shale bracelets and an iron-working furnace.
Excavations showed the enclosure would originally have had a massive bank inside a ditch. Read more.