His Royal Highness The Duke of Cornwall and the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery are delighted to announce that His Royal Highness has gifted to the Museum all the archaeological finds from a prehistoric cremation burial discovered within a cist at Whitehorse Hill, Dartmoor. These finds were discovered on land which forms part of the Duchy of Cornwall estate.
The recent excavation has revealed nationally important remains. The cist was the burial place of the cremated remains of a person who was aged between 15-25 years old. The person died nearly four thousand years ago and his/her remains were wrapped in an animal hide and buried carefully with a number of items. The items include a basket, which has been used as the basis for a replica at Stonehenge, a carefully woven wrist or arm band uniquely studded with tin beads and a collection of over 200 beads, some made from amber, others from shale and four wooden studs used as decoration for the ears and lips. These items provide a glimpse into the lives of Bronze Age people.
This was the first major archaeological excavation of a burial site on Dartmoor for 100 years. The site was identified 10 years ago when a stone dropped out of the cist which was concealed in a mound of peat. Although action was taken by the Dartmoor National Park Authority to protect the cist, and the site was monitored, further peat erosion meant that an excavation was the only way of ensuring the protection of any objects within the burial site.
The items are considered to be the most important group of prehistoric finds ever recovered from Dartmoor. The survival of some of the organic remains is of international importance.
The excavation was co-ordinated by Dartmoor National Park Authority. The work was carried out by archaeologists from the Historic Environment Projects Team, Cornwall Council with assistance from English Heritage and Plymouth University specialists. Duchy of Cornwall estate staff supported the project.
This gift is made as the items go on display to the public at Plymouth Museum and City Art Gallery from Saturday 13 September to Saturday 13 December 2014 in an exhibition entitled ‘Whitehorse Hill: A Prehistoric Dartmoor Discovery’. This is a partnership exhibition between Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery and Dartmoor National Park Authority. Future regional events are being planned.
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