'One of the most significant findings of the last 100 years': Artefacts discovered on Dartmoor hint at ancient trading links

Discovery gives archaeologists an insight into the lives of people who lived on the rugged south western moorland  4,000 years ago

Rob Williams
Monday 18 February 2013 10:47

A find hailed as "one of the most significant of at least the last 100 years", has unearthed human remains and Bronze Age artefacts thought to be 4,000 years old.

The discovery, described by researchers as 'amazing', has given archaeologists an insight into the lives of people who lived on the rugged south western moorland 4,000 years ago.

Organic remains, found in August 2011, include cremated human bones wrapped in a type of animal hide. The find also includes what appears to be intricately designed jewellery and textiles.

Among the items discovered was an animal pelt, which contained what is believed to be a bracelet covered in tin beads.

The objects, including teeth, textiles and jewellery, had been preserved in peat and were discovered in a burial chest on the moor. The find has been hailed as one of the most significant historical discoveries in a century.

The artifacts were uncovered within a granite tomb-like casing known as a cist, and are made from materials not discovered in Britain at the time and hint - for the first time, the researchers say - at trading links between the area and the continent.

An investigation into the discovery, due to be broadcast as part of BBC One's Inside Out South West tonight, is considered internationally important and the remains have captured the interest of experts from all over the country.

Jane Marchand, senior archaeologist with the Dartmoor National Park, said the haul was among the most significant since the 19th century.

She said: "This is an incredible find, we had no idea when we started that we could end up with something quite as astounding as human remains.

"These artifacts, which are believed to be made from shale and amber, show that perhaps Dartmoor wasn't quite the isolated, hard-to-reach place we all thought it was 4,000 years ago.

"This has been fascinating to work on, but it's just one piece in a puzzle. The story is only part-told."

The investigation began 12 years ago, when archaeologists hoped the cist - one of the few unopened burial chests on the moorland - would offer vital clues about the environment from times past.

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