Ancient pottery under the microscope
30 October 2012
Archaeologists have discovered a 4,000 year pottery beaker during excavations ahead of the construction of the new town at Cranbrook near Exeter. The pot is remarkably complete with only a tiny portion of the rim missing. It was discovered buried in a pit about 2 metres deep along with a stone bracer, an arm guard worn by archers to protect their forearms when shooting. The bracer was made from stone sourced in Langdale in Cumbria.
By looking at the pot under the microscope Roger Taylor, RAMM’s geologist, was able to identify the inclusions in the clay. He concluded that it was made very locally, probably on the site where it was found.
These distinctively shaped and decorated pots give rise to the name Beaker Culture for the people of the early Bronze Age who made them. Very few are known from Devon although they are quite common in other parts of southern Britain. Archaeologists usually find only small sherds locally, although there is one largely complete pot, found at Woodbury Common, on display in RAMM’s Making History gallery.
Jenny Durrant RAMM’s Assistant Curator of Antiquities is delighted with the find “This Cranbrook vessel is a real star find and once the site has been published we hope it will come to RAMM for display.”