Archaeologists and volunteers that were busy researching a burial mound located in Cornwall have just made the surprising discovery of 4,000-year-old cremated remains on a farm nearby in the town of Looe. While local farmers had surmised that archaeologists would probably not be able to find anything too special in the area owing to the large amount of plowing that routinely takes place, archaeologists nevertheless were able to spot the burnt human remains in what they are calling a “miracle” study.
Dr. Catherine Frieman, who works at the Australian National University (ANU), has deemed the find as a “beautiful burial,” as Cornwall Live reports, and has hailed the discovery as miraculous.
“We were so excited to find such a lot of archaeology on the site despite scores of generations of plowing, but to find an intact clay urn buried 4,000 years ago just 25 centimeters beneath the surface is nothing short of a miracle.”
Excitingly for Dr. Frieman and the volunteers investigating the 4,000-year-old remains in Cornwall, pieces of bone were also recovered from the site, which should hopefully allow archaeologists to learn more about the person that was laid to rest here so long ago.
This includes learning what gender the individual would have been and at what age they would have died, along with a closer look at the individual’s diet and what area of the country they may have been from originally.
“This is a sealed, intact cremation so it has the potential to tell us a lot about the cremation rite as it was practiced 4,000 years ago. We also appear to have some identifiable fragments of bone among the cremated remains so we’ll potentially be able to tell a lot about the individual themselves.”
Besides the cremated human remains, archaeologists have also uncovered pottery dating back to the Bronze Age, hammer stones that would have once been used to create flint tools, and flint tools themselves. Because of the different artifacts that were found at the site, it has been concluded that there was probably a much larger burial mound situated over the older, 4,000-year-old one.
Because the original burial mound had been so thoroughly sealed when it was discovered, archaeologists should be able to learn more about the ritual of cremation as it was practiced in Cornwall during this period of time.
Interestingly, at the same location archaeologists have also found medieval remains which include a cooking pot, according to Dr. Catherine Frieman, and there is distinct evidence of some kind of ritual that is not currently understood.
“The site has thrown up a big mystery for us because we found what we believe is an entire – albeit crushed – medieval pot from the 12th or 13th century AD, carefully placed under a couple of layers of flat stones. It had some cooked food remains adhering to it and we don’t know what it’s doing there or why. Hundreds of years after the barrow was built, someone from the 12th or 13th century came back to this site and dug into it to bury this pot. The evidence looks quite ritualistic, but what the ritual was, we don’t know.”
Nearby, a round house dating to approximately 500 BC was also discovered, and it will be part of their upcoming research for archaeologists to try and discover how the pieces of this strange puzzle of objects all fit together.
To try and learn more about the 4,000-year-old cremated human remains that were found in Cornwall, archaeologists will be spending the next year or so analyzing samples of pollen, flint, and soil.