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Unearthed: where Britain's first farmers settled

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

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AROUND 5,500 years ago some of Britain's first ever farmers settled in Newquay and worked the land, a new discovery has shown.

New evidence unearthed on a site between Tregunnel Hill and Threthellan shows a thriving community of Neolithic farmers once lived there and even enjoyed feasts.

Archaeologists discovered artefacts and tools dating back to the period in history during a routine pre-development dig at the site – which will see 174 new homes built under a Duchy of Cornwall housing scheme. The experts found Neolithic flint tools, pottery and a polished stone axe-head as well as a large pit containing charcoal and a number of smashed pots, thought to be from an important feasting event.

Middle Bronze Age pottery and flint arrowheads dating back to around 3,500 years old were also unearthed as well as a rare Iron Age copper alloy bracelet and pottery dating back to around 2,500 years old.

The artefacts show how inhabitants lived thousands of years ago and provide a direct link to our ancestors from the fourth millennium BC to the present day.

Chairman of Newquay Old Cornwall Society, Peter Hicks, who joined other members in September to have a look at some of the artefacts, said the area was rich in history. He said: "It is very interesting. The chap in charge was very pleased, he said you rarely find sites like that.

"We saw a little arrow, it was perfectly formed and made out of flint. There was other flint artefects too. There was great big piles of earth around. They were excavating until only recently."

Tim Gray, estate surveyor to the Duchy of Cornwall, said it was standard practice to study the archaeology of a site prior to development and that it did not hold up the scheme.

The findings and soil will be processed by Cotswold Archaeology – which carried out the dig – and analysed by specialists before eventually being handed over to the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.

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  • caroclemens  |  December 03 2012, 11:18AM

    Craig Weatherhill asks a good question. Who makes this kind of decision? Is there nothing we are allowed to do for ourselves without getting in outside contractors, consultants and 'experts'? Even Objective One funding is administered outside Cornwall and often spent on other people's needs. We have archaeologists of our own who are capable of examining our ancestral bones and even some who are capable of opposing unscrupulous developers.

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  • cweatherhill  |  November 26 2012, 7:20PM

    WHY is Cotswold Archaeology involved? People who know nothing of Cornwall or its distinct (pre)history? Isn't this sort of project why we employ an archaeological team of our own in Truro? Who are not to be involved. Why isn't the experienced Cornwall Archaeological Society also being involved?

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  • caroclemens  |  November 18 2012, 12:25AM

    What a shame to destroy this site for 'homes' that will probably not be for local people. The Gannel side of Newquay has long been an important place for locals and visitors to enjoy.

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