More than most archaeological periods from pre-history, Britain’s Bronze Age is constantly being re-assessed as archaeologists and historians find new evidence of its richness and complexity.
Now the boundaries of what we know about this increasingly sophisticated period are being pushed even further by a small pottery sherd which is currently on display at the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall.
The piece of pottery was found during archaeological excavations of a Late Bronze Age roundhouse on St Agnes, on the Isles of Scilly, in 2009, and some archaeologists believe it clearly shows etched lines that resemble a sailing ship.
For Sean Taylor, an archaeologist with the Cornwall Council Historic Environment Service (CCHES), the find could be hugely significant for our understanding of the Bronze Age.
“The sherd is part of a small thick-walled vessel, perhaps a cup or beaker, and it’s highly unusual in that it has been inscribed, prior to firing, with a freehand design,” he explains.
“If this is a ship, and it does look like a masted ship, then this is the earliest representation of a boat ever found in the UK.” Read more.
Scuba divers on an archaeological survey off the Isles of Scilly have recovered cash believed to have been stolen from a church collection box.
The theft happened on Bryher in August, when money was also stolen from the island’s charity collection boxes.
PC Matt Collier, who works for Devon and Cornwall Police on the islands, said the thefts had “sent shockwaves” through the local community.
Soaked bank notes and coins were in a tennis bag in just 3m (9ft) of water.
About £1,000 was stolen from Bryher, but only about £200 has been recovered. Read more.
Archaeologists are investigating islands around Britain to find out why our ancestors gave up being hunter-gatherers 6,000 years ago and turned to farming.
Academics from the universities of Southampton and Liverpool are hoping to shed new light on the long-standing debate about whether the change around 4,000BC was due to colonists moving into Britain or if the indigenous population gradually adopted the new agricultural lifestyle themselves.
The experts will be excavating three island groups in the western seaways - the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly and the Outer Hebrides - to understand what sailing across this area would have been like in 4,000BC.
Fraser Sturt, from the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton, said: “How people changed from hunter-gatherers to agricultural lifestyles is one of the big questions in archaeology. Read more.