Prehistory in Penwith

 

PZNOW

Historic Past

Prehistory

Quoits

EntranceTombs

Courtyard Houses

Fogou

Hill Forts

Promontory Forts

Settlements

Stone Circles

Standing Stones

Holed Stones

Inscribed Stones


Site Location

Prehistory Links

Prehistory has always presented a problem to archaeologists, as there were no written texts to be left behind. All we have are the remains of buildings, and then only those that were built of stone. Only a few utensils and weapons survive, as prehistoric man had few possessions.

 

Two examples of interesting finds at Rospannel Farm which is about 5 miles from Land's End in Cornwall

Image reproduced by kind permission of Rospannel Farm.

Borer & Notched Scraper

Stone Age Axes

Image reproduced by kind permission of
Penlee House Gallery and Museum
.

Stone Age Axes

 

Archaeology divides prehistory into periods, the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age), Neolithic (New Stone Age), Bronze Age and Iron Age. The timing of these periods is not clear cut. Where one period ends, the next does not automatically start, instead there is an overlap.

In the Mesolithic, when man was a hunter gatherer, artefacts from this period are mainly hunting implements. Pottery was not used in this period.

 

Early Stone Age To Early Bronze Age Arrowheads Image reproduced by kind permission of Penlee House Gallery and Museum.

Early Stone Age To Early Bronze Age Arrowheads

 

During the Neolithic, man changed from a hunter gatherer to a farmer. This meant that now the people formed more permanent communities, enabling the construction of lasting structures. More importantly society changed.

 

Early Neolithic To Late Bronze Age Axes Image reproduced by kind permission of Penlee House Gallery and Museum.

Early Neolithic To Late Bronze Age Axes

 

With farming and domestication of animals, society became more productive.

Freed from food production, people could now specialise in crafts such as pottery. Trading of goods began in this period.

It was during this time that a hierarchical system arose, and maybe the priesthood. These factors led to the increased possibility of artefacts such as pottery and ceremonial structures. It is during this time that quoits, entrance tombs, stone circles and standing stones were first built.

 

Trevisker Style Lugged With Point Comb Decoration Urn Containing Semi-Cremated Bones. Found ar Zennor.

Image reproduced by kind permission of Penlee House Gallery and Museum.

Urn Containing Semi-Cremated Bones

 

Society changed again in the Bronze Age. During this period the defensive structures, hill forts were constructed. This may have been a time of social upheaval. Increasingly implements were now being made out of bronze.

 

Penwith had in abundance both tin and copper, the metals required to make bronze. This would have made the area prosperous and important, as the trade for these valuable metals flourished.

Trading with merchants from faraway lands meant importation of exotic goods.

Gold hoards have been found from this age, like the one from Towednack, a replica of which can be seen at Penlee Museum.

Rosemorran Gold Hoard 900-700BC.
Image reproduced by kind permission of Penlee House Gallery and Museum.

Rosemorran Gold Hoard 900-700BC

 

Replica of Gold Hoards found at Towednack

Image reproduced by kind permission of Penlee House Gallery and Museum.

Replica of Gold Hoard

 

In the Iron Age, a new type of building emerged, the courtyard house. These buildings continued to be used up to the coming of the Romans. Below are examples of the Roman pottery found in Penwith.

 

Wheel thrown bowl pedastalled. 1st century BC to 1st century AD. Found at Porthmeor Zennor.

Hand made wide mouthed jar. AD 200-300. Found at Chysauster.

 Hand made bowl with base ring and inverted rim AD300-400. Found at Porthmeor Zennor.

 

 

 

Image reproduced by kind permission of Penlee House Gallery and Museum.

Roman Pottery Found At Chysauster and Zennor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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