A Bronze Age Burial Site Dating To 2000 BCE Has Been Discovered In Cornwall

The Cornish barrow was discovered by accident while taking geophysical surveys of the area.

A Bronze Age burial mound has been accidentally discovered in Cornwall.
Matt Cardy / Getty Images

The Cornish barrow was discovered by accident while taking geophysical surveys of the area.

A Bronze Age burial mound dating to 2000 BCE was recently discovered by chance after an archaeologist was busy overseeing geophysical surveys in Cornwall, close to the village of Looe. While carrying out these surveys, Dr. Catherine Frieman met a farmer who lived nearby that told her about an odd patch of land he had on his property that he was curious about.

Upon inspecting the farmer’s land, Dr. Frieman was stunned to discover that the strange lump that had been described to her was in fact an ancient burial site, as Phys.org reported.

“He told us about a ‘lump’ on his land and that nobody knew what it was, so he asked us to take a look at it. So we ran our equipment over a 1,600 meter square area and sure enough we found a quite obvious circular ditch — about 15 meters across — with a single entrance pointing south east and a bunch of pits in the middle. We said ‘oh my god — that’s definitely a barrow.'”

With regard to barrows, Frieman explained that when it comes to the United Kingdom, it would be odd if a barrow wasn’t also a burial site. However, because the location is in Cornwall, Dr. Frieman initially couldn’t be absolutely certain whether there would be human remains left to discover.

“We just don’t know what we’ll find until we start digging. In Cornwall, human remains are only found in about half of the barrows that have been excavated, and not very many have been excavated compared to other parts of Britain.”

Once digging in Cornwall commenced, archaeologists were astonished to discover a pot dating back to the Bronze Age, 4,000 years ago, that was still fully intact, according to the BBC. Considering this was found on a farmer’s field, Catherine Frieman exclaimed that it was “almost a miracle that a plough has never hit it.”

“It’s unusual enough that it made us smile. You don’t often get intact jars from the Bronze Age. This is from 4,000 years ago and these are very shallow. This was about 25cm underground.”

Dr. Frieman believes that it is actually quite likely that human remains will be found inside of this pot, and archaeologists are now working to discover whether this is in fact the case.

While it is not currently known why Bronze Age societies preferred to bury their loved ones in barrows, it is quite difficult to discover human remains in this part of the United Kingdom due to the strongly acidic nature of the soil in southern regions.

Because of this, unless bodies have been cremated, they are generally not preserved, which makes the contents of the pot found in Cornwall so intriguing.

As archaeological work continues at this Bronze Age burial site in Cornwall, it will soon be determined whether the pot found does indeed hold human remains.