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Archaeology and Environment of a Bronze Age Cairn and Prehistoric and Romano-British Field System at Chysauster, Gulval, near Penzance, Cornwall

  • George Smith (a1), R.I. Macphail, S.A. Mays, J. Nowakowski, P. Rose, R.G. Scaife, A. Sharpe, D.J. Tomalin and D.F. Williams...

Abstract

The project involved the survey and selective excavation of an area of field system adjoining the Romano-British ‘courtyard house’ settlement of Chysauster, near Penzance, Cornwall, supported by soil and pollen studies and by the extensive landscape surveys. The excavation had two main elements: study of the rectilinear field system and excavation of a Bronze Age funerary cairn incorporated in one of the field boundaries. The earliest field system, probably with origins in the 2nd millennium BC, was largely modified by a more irregular and strongly lynchetted field pattern, probably associated with more intensive Iron Age and Romano-British agriculture. There was also some medieval or post-medieval reuse and modification. The cairn pre-dated a boundary bank of one of the early fields and was the focus for a number of cremation burials. Six of these were accompanied by pots which, together with their radiocarbon dates, provide a significant group of the middle phase of the Trevisker variant of the British Food Urn ceramic tradition. Excavation of field boundaries showed evidence of long periods of modification and lynchet accumulation but lacked good artefactual or radiocarbon dating evidence. Soil and pollen analysis produced significant new evidence for this region, showing the former existence of a brown soil under open oak/hazel woodland, with some cereal cultivation taking place, prior to the construction of the Bronze Age cairn. Later cultivation techniques led to deterioration in soil status and to soil erosion. Some field boundaries may have been constructed at this time to conserve soil or as dumps for clearance stone. The changes, through deforestation, cultivation, and erosion influenced the plant communities in the nearby valley where pollen analysis of a peat section suggested three phases of human activity.

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Archaeology and Environment of a Bronze Age Cairn and Prehistoric and Romano-British Field System at Chysauster, Gulval, near Penzance, Cornwall

  • George Smith (a1), R.I. Macphail, S.A. Mays, J. Nowakowski, P. Rose, R.G. Scaife, A. Sharpe, D.J. Tomalin and D.F. Williams...

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