The Origins of Maritime CornwallPre-medieval Settlements and Seaways

Caradoc Peters

The origins of maritime Cornwall before the medieval period are to be found, owing to the lack of historic documentation, largely in archaeological sources. Archaeology shares much in common with history: both disciplines are concerned with the human past, but archaeology is more concerned with the material and scientific evidence, whether it comes from bones, buildings or artefacts. Additionally, environmental evidence is applied to the study of past coastal change as sea levels have fallen and risen. Over the immense time covered by this section, this is extremely significant. Archaeology is also aided by anthropology in understanding behaviour that seems alien to the modern mind. Armed with these tools, the narrative can explore why people travelled by sea, what ideas they exchanged and what they made of the mystery of the sea itself. It then looks at the evidence from all the periods of Cornish maritime history from the Mesolithic (10,000 years BP–3500 BC) to the Roman period (AD 43–the early fifth century).

Most water-borne travel is likely to have been for local communication and fishing. Long-distance travel was more challenging. There were few horses in Britain before 2700 BC and, they remained rare at least until the Iron Age. One can imagine that water transport was extremely attractive to the foot-sore traveller, especially when burdened with heavy loads. There were all the other difficulties too – foreign tribes, strange customs and no protection from menace and attack. Mariners, on the other hand, were spared many of those threats, as sea travel is more direct, bypassing difficult areas. Sea networks, indeed, led to the exchange of exotic goods for precious stone and metal from Cornwall. Cornwall also became a key junction for travellers crossing between the Irish Sea and the English Channel and, ultimately, though not directly, Britain and the Continent. On the downside, pre-medieval technological developments were few and infrequent: cargoes consisted of luxuries and were generally not concerned with the delivery of essential supplies of food and other items needed for subsistence. Social and religious reasons, such as tribal prestige and pilgrimage, rather than profit, were behind these exchanges.1

Aside from practical reasons for travel, archaeologists have also investigated what ideas may have been exchanged – some were no doubt technological, such as metallurgy, but some may have been cultural or even religious.2 In particular, people without modern navigational and safety equipment more keenly felt the moods of the sea, which was therefore seen as mysterious and capricious. Seafarers from many societies have developed cultures of beliefs, behaviours and material culture relating to the sea that are separate from those that they normally practise on land.

Early Prehistory: Mesolithic Period (10,000 years BP–3500 BC) to Earlier Neolithic Period (3500–2700 BC)

The earliest humans in Cornwall would not have had any sea. At the height of the last Ice Age the coastline was about 150 kilometres further out from the present coast, thus ruling out a maritime history for the present area of Cornwall before the Mesolithic period. After the last glaciation came to a close a warmer climate and higher sea levels led to new lifestyles. There was a trend towards moving around within smaller territories exploiting seasonal foods. Seafood was particularly important to the diet of these hunter-gatherer peoples.

Fishing was an obvious consequence of the new seascapes. It was thought, until Rick Schulting and Mike Richards’ chemical analyses of Mesolithic human bone, that the dependence in the Mesolithic period on seafood was not something that developed fully until late in that period.3 It is now clear that it was a crucial part of the Mesolithic diet from the beginning. George Smith’s study of the Lizard reveals that Mesolithic campsites were predominantly coastal, with temporary camps in the interior being near rivers.4 These temporary camps have little evidence of stone working and are overwhelmingly composed of microliths, or small flint barbs, which were mounted on arrows. Coastal sites provide abundant resources because people can exploit the land as well as the sea.5

The idea that coastal sites related to trade is suspect, though. Chert axes were thought to be too large to have come from beach pebbles and were originally cited as evidence of trade with areas of Devon and Dorset. However, it appears that chert beach pebbles are naturally larger than flint pebbles because they weather less easily (another possible reason for their selection). Flint nodules were used for the smaller tools, such as awls, arrow barbs and scrapers. This also weakens Barry Cunliffe’s suggestion that the lack of variation in stone tool cultures during this period was the result of increased interaction through maritime communication.6 There is also little evidence in the way of exotic goods/materials and infrastructure to support this. It may seem obvious that the qualities and size of raw materials may have a bearing on their selection. However, in later periods perfectly good local materials were ignored in favour of exotic materials, and the shape and size of artefacts began to have more to do with preconceived ideals than with maximising the actual qualities of the raw materials themselves.

Rising sea levels cut Britain off from the continent by the end of the early Mesolithic period, and seawater continued to dissect landscapes such as those of Cornwall with long estuaries and creeks like the Fal and the Helford systems. Stumps of trees and peat appearing at low tide in places such as Mount’s Bay and the Camel Estuary bear witness to former low sea levels as the remnants of ancient woodlands and peat bogs.7 The increased coastline caused by higher sea levels must have encouraged further use of dugout canoes propelled by paddles. Although none have been found in Cornwall as yet, a Mesolithic paddle and a Neolithic dugout canoe have been found elsewhere in Britain.8 Such vessels were clearly more useful and safe for coastal and river navigation, but unsuitable for open-sea fishing.9 Some sites, such as Poldowrian, may have benefited from deep water close in shore, allowing the exploitation of deep-sea fish as well as inshore species.

The increased ratio of coastline to land and the presence of the Gulf Stream meant fairly concentrated resources. Thus, during the Late Mesolithic period (6,000–3,500 BC) there were along the coasts of the continent sedentary communities of hunter-gatherers, contemporary with sites in Cornwall.10 This in part at least explains the appearance of larger campsites and presumably larger bands of people in Cornwall too, evidenced by such sites as Poldowrian and Windmill Farm. Present-day vegetation includes wild ancestors of plants such as cabbage, turnips and beet on the Cornish coast, which may have contributed to the diet.11

As for regional interaction, the evidence is as limited as in the earlier Mesolithic period, although trends in Britain and north-west Europe include changes in microliths from broad to narrow lanceolate forms, which is not explainable in purely local, Cornish terms.12 The move to larger sites is, likewise, not purely local. The selection of terraces and low ridges for campsites away from the path of game and demarcated with mounds of flint indicates the beginnings of a cultural identity separate from nature and from neighbouring areas. Incoming Neolithic cultural influences, such as the production of pebble hammers by stone grinding, may have been a catalyst.13 A similar process of Neolithic cultural change, with a move to demarcated ritual–social sites, has been recognised in Scotland recently.14

Some farming was introduced in the earlier Neolithic, perhaps herding, and fishing appears to have declined. George Smith’s Lizard study15 suggested that there was a change to an emphasis on inland sites, which corresponds with the bone chemistry evidence above.16 The diet on the Isles of Scilly, however, remained largely based around seafood.17 Examining the evidence from the mainland, however, it might appear as if people had turned their backs on the ocean – but there were new inducements to go to sea.

While food was land-based, exchange between different peoples involved taking to the seas. Late Mesolithic pebble hammers were exchanged on the coast between St Ives and Gwithian,18 while around 3000–2700 BC stone axes from Carn Brea, the St Ives area, Balstone Down, near Callington, and somewhere near St Austell spread as far as the Wessex chalklands. Gabbroic clay (from the Lizard) went to the central Wessex chalklands after 3000 BC.19 Finally (after 2700 BC) stone axes from Mount’s Bay and St Ives Bay travelled by sea to entrepôts in Wessex, Essex and possibly Yorkshire. Cornwall imported Beer flint, Portland chert and axes from the Lake District, north Wales and the Shropshire– Montgomeryshire border and possibly Swiss jadeite (albeit only four axes). Despite not finding ‘greenstone’ and gabbro extraction sites20 with evidence for the kind of ritual found in flint mines elsewhere,21 greenstone axes and gabbroic pottery have been found in other ritual contexts. For instance, at Carn Brea greenstone was placed in cairn material abutting a large torstone and also in an enclosure wall.22 Exchange could have been linked with pilgrimage. Entrance graves, which contained relics of the dead, are found near the coast in Cornwall.23


2.1 Carn Brea, near Redruth

Engraving by T. Allom, published in 1832

The Sea Trade Expands: Late Neolithic Period (2700–2100 BC) to Middle Iron Age (400–200 BC)

Alongside the last phase of the stone axe trade, new trends brought distant trade and new technologies. The ‘Beaker Culture’ arrived from the continent about 2700 BC.24 With it came round barrows containing burials with high-status goods of amber, gold and faïence (a glassy material).25 Some goods show specialist craft skill, such as grey faïence beads made in Cornwall.26 These new artefacts and decoration may represent a reverence for the powers associated with such objects and their exotic raw materials.27 People gave artefacts as gifts in burials or to natural rock formations (often surrounded by cairns). Monuments and materials such as gold and amber coming from far-flung unseen sources may have required mythic narratives like the Dreamtime of the Australian Aborigines to explain them.28 The many barrows on Cornish cliff tops perhaps form such a narrative, while also serving as day marks for mariners. Irish gold such as lunulae29 and the cup from Rillaton Barrow, Bodmin Moor30 were imported. Indeed, evidence of dugout canoes and skin boats during this period comes from their use as coffins,31 suggesting a link between voyaging and death (and thus the spiritual realm).

Voyaging itself was undergoing change with the development of a new type of boat – the plank-sewn boat, in which planks were bound together with cords. Plank boats in Britain date from the Early Bronze Age (2100–1500 BC) onwards.32 They are argued to be sea-going vessels (albeit still paddled), although this depends on how they are reconstructed.33 Landing places are also known: at Runnymede (Surrey) a sloping shore covered with brushwood; at Caldicot (Gwent) a ‘hard’ of timber and stone rubble; and at North Ferriby (on the Humber) a beaching site with a winch.34 Van de Noort argues that landing places for seaborne voyages, such as Kilnsea on the Humber, were associated with ritual landscapes of barrows and henges, whereas landings such as North Ferriby, designed for mundane purposes such as boat construction, river crossings and fishing, were not.35 Others suggest that natural features were important36 or that all watercraft needed ritualistic decoration because practical activities in many societies are often linked with such ritual and sea journeys in particular.37 For example, a Middle Bronze Age (1500–1200 BC) boat-shaped bowl from Caergwrle, Flintshire,38 and a Middle Iron Age (400–200 BC) dugout canoe from Hasholme, on the Humber,39 have ‘occuli’ or ‘eyes’ to ‘see’ – an idea that is found even in later periods.40 Sandy and pebbly beaches in Cornwall could have provided suitable landings without extra adornment, and cliff-top distributions of barrows and cairns could have been part of a maritime ritual landscape, as at Kilnsea.

Whatever the arguments for ritual and sea-going craft, increasing numbers of exotic imports from overseas dating to the Bronze Age have been found, meaning that, clearly, some vessels did cross the sea. Among these imports was metal (copper, tin, lead, gold and alloys thereof). Unfortunately, only limited evidence41 (such as loosely associated antler picks and depositions of metalware) has been found for a well-developed prehistoric metal extraction industry in Cornwall.42 However, studies of metal artefacts have demonstrated that Cornwall and particularly Dartmoor were the most probable sources for tin used in British bronze artefacts.43 It has also been found in faïence beads, as well as tin beads found in places as far apart as Sutton Veny (Wiltshire), Exloo (Netherlands) and Buxheim (Bavaria).44

Possible evidence of metal cargoes, including swords and axes, from long since decayed ships comes from finds off the south coast of Britain such as those from Langdon Bay, near Dover, and Moor Sand, Prawle Point, off the coast of Salcombe in Devon.45 Some have argued, though, that these finds could represent hoards that have been eroded out of former cliffs owing to severe coastal erosion in these areas. A copper ingot found off the more resistant coast of Plymouth is harder to dismiss.46 Although it does not constitute a cargo in itself, it is evidence of an ancient sea voyage and is not the stuff of mundane fishing trips.

These sea routes intensified from about 1500 BC onwards as a result of a new economic climate. In the Middle Bronze Age farming technologies began to make more impact. People became more territorial and settled, and field systems appeared across Cornwall, as they did over much of the British Isles. Surpluses are demonstrated by large storage jars such as Trevisker Ware ones.47 As for livestock, at Trethellan, near Newquay, the presence of milk products in residues on pottery at the site has recently been demonstrated.48 Wool production was important, and evidenced by loom weights and spindle whorls. However, on Nornour, in Scilly, seafood remained important.49

As a result of the growth of farming, the northern European exchange routes stretched to the Mediterranean in the Middle and Late Bronze Age (LBA: 1200–700 BC). Cornwall was pivotally placed on the trade routes from Ireland to south-east Britain and the continent.50 For instance, a hoard (or more probably a ritual deposition) of objects found at Morvah included bracelets of the broken-ring, Irish type and the British ‘carp’s-tongue’ type. They reveal the probable route for similar material from Ireland that ended up in north-west Iberia.51

These exchange systems declined over the Late Bronze Age52 for reasons that have been contested by scholars. Perhaps advances in metallurgy meant better arms and armour, with hillforts as defensive, military structures. Increased trade would have increased employment and required more surpluses to feed and clothe the extra people: so more land would come into cultivation and people would start to fight over the dwindling supply of good land. On the other hand, chieftains may have sought out military gear or, rather, parade armour as symbols of their status instead. The hillforts53 – if ‘fort’ is the right word – often contain a little settlement with a few huts anyway, so they were probably for either livestock,54 markets or public ceremonies.

This is further supported by the observation that hillforts and cliff castles were planted within existing agricultural landscapes of field systems. Earlier field boundaries and roundhouses were cleared to enable Gear Hillfort, near Gweek, to sit with the field system overlooking the Helford River.55 Given its size and position overlooking a large tributary creek where it meets the main Helford River, it was likely, like other such hillforts, to have played an important role in the exchange network as a market and a communal meeting place. Field systems now served fewer, larger centres of storage and redistribution, instead of widely scattered settlements of all sizes.

The Meeting of Classical and Atlantic Worlds: Late Iron Age (200 BC–AD 43) to the Roman Period (AD 43–the early fifth century)

An age of sail and classical civilisation revived trading interests, as the tribal world of the Atlantic met the urban states of the Mediterranean. From about 200 BC trade networks connecting the Gauls with Greeks in the south of France were intensified: the Roman Empire grew to take in the whole of the Mediterranean and Gaul as far as the Channel. The trade networks of the Classical world were now linked with those of the British Isles. Wine arriving in Cornwall came via internal British and Gaulish networks. The main trading post in south-western Britain, however, was at Hengistbury Head in Dorset, not in Cornwall.56 In the Late Iron Age coins, jars and amphorae containing wine reached settlements in Cornwall via Dorset.57 Imported northern Gaulish jars inspired imitations in the form of Cordoned Ware. Some coins came from northern Italy,58 some from Gaul and some from elsewhere in southern and western Britain,59 though no coins were produced in Cornwall.

Competition for access to such Mediterranean goods led to settlement changes in parts of Britain, but this had little impact on Cornwall, which was full of hillforts, small embanked settlements called rounds and undefended settlements. In Cornwall, sea trade may have been seen in ritual terms, as before.60 For instance, at the Rumps cliff castle, near St Minver (north of the Camel River), a triple bank and defence system closely encloses two rock stacks, each with a roundhouse at its foot.61 Beyond the stacks, which are still part of the peninsula, lies a tall island in the form of an even larger stack. One misconception is that because Cornwall was not the main recipient of the wine trade it was somehow peripheral in other senses too. Recent research by Charles Johns into high-quality metalware from Cornwall shows that not only is the earliest known decorated mirror found in Britain from Cornwall (Sampson Hill, Bryher, in the Isles of Scilly) but the region had its own trade connections and a thriving culture of luxury goods of its own.62 For instance, during this period dark shiny and decorated gabbroic pottery from the Lizard, made to resemble metal vessels, was traded around the coasts of south-western Britain.63

This increased level of trade is thought have been enabled by the development of sailing (and rowing with oars in rowlocks) alongside larger sea-going vessels. Roman period sailing ships from Britain are fairly well understood,64 but between them and the plank boats of the Bronze Age there is little hard evidence, though dugout canoes continued. However, Caesar records sailing ships in Brittany during the Late Iron Age.65 Roman period ships were carvel built with the planks edge to edge instead of overlapping, using iron nails, and had masts for square sails. The ships’ length varied within the 10–20 metre range.66 Most ships were of a type referred to as ‘Romano-Celtic’ – probably deriving partly from earlier Iron Age vessels and partly from Mediterranean ideas.67 These constructions were frame-based, starting with the frame and moving on to the planks, rather than vice versa, as with the shell-based Mediterranean type (which was occasionally used in British waters too). The flat keels consisted of two planks, which steadied the vessels more than the Mediterranean type could in rough tidal estuarine environments. Some flat-bottomed boats for river transport existed, such as that found at Magor, in Gwent.68 That a belief in supernatural protection for vessels continued in this period is demonstrated by a lucky throw of gaming pieces69 used as part of the cast shape of an anchor found off the Lleyn Peninsula in Gwynedd.70

The accompanying port facilities could have included timber wharves, though this evidence comes only from third-century AD London.71 Earlier, London had had a gravelled hard where wagons could load up with goods from beached vessels. In Cornwall, the beaching of vessels is more likely. For example, beaches by the salt works of Trebarveth and Carngoon Bank would have been sufficient even without further modification.

Alongside the evolving sailing technologies and the larger cargoes, the nature of trade was shifting. During the Roman period more commercial barter began to replace socially competitive exchange. Locally made weights of gneiss and elvan (a soft granite) from settlements and a lead weight, possibly off a steelyard, from Treryn Dinas cliff castle in West Penwith suggest that measurement was important to trade and probably taxes too. Tax may lie behind salt production at the coastal sites of Trebarveth and Carngoon Bank on the Lizard and the corn driers at Halangy Down, in Scilly. These industries perhaps suggest the use of cured meat and grain to pay taxes or to provision passing traders. Imported goods included Oxford Ware, Terra Sigillata (luxury tableware from southern Gaul), and north African wine and olive oil amphorae.72 An amphora from off the Dodman Point73 even testifies to the sea route. Going the other way, vessels of gneiss and elvan from Cornwall reached London.74 Cornwall was the pivot of sea routes around the province and over to Ireland.

Trade impacted on local communities in other ways, too: the form of the roofs of ovalhouses and ‘courtyard’ houses (in West Penwith and Scilly) may have been borrowed from boat building, the house’s ridgepole bent like the keel of an upturned boat.75 Religious ideas may have been passed on too – in Scilly there is a possible seafarer’s shrine on the island of Nornour,76 which contained offerings such as brooches, rings and vessels, as well as figurines of what could be Venus,77 in her role as a protective sea goddess.

Sometimes military protection was deemed necessary too. Following the Roman Conquest an early warning system of watchtowers safeguarded the south-west coast (then the frontier) and its trade from sea-borne threats from Wales. The watchtowers stretched from Somerset down to Cornwall; in Cornwall at Morwenstow and St Gennys,78 and possibly at St Agnes – a small, square embanked structure recorded in 1733.79 In the late first century Wales was subdued and the watchtowers were abandoned.80 Later in the Roman period there was again unrest. During the third century provincial armies rebelled to install their generals as Emperor, and eventually some frustrated regions set up their own breakaway empires. This turbulence caused shortages of things such as tin, so Cornwall and Dartmoor’s resource became vital. Evidence from south-east Britain suggests that the Roman navy was involved in exploiting mineral wealth and transporting it, perhaps including Cornish tin.81

Official interest in tin mining may be found in the possible official guesthouse at Magor, together with a number of late Roman ‘milestones’ such as the one at Breage, near Helston in Cornwall. The political difficulties outlined above, as well as a rise in the demand for tableware made of pewter (a lead and tin alloy), meant that Cornish tin would have been in greater demand. Pewter vessels such as one from Hallivick near Grampound have been found in Cornwall,82 while tin ingots from Carnanton near St Columb Major83 and St Mawgan-in-Pydar are also evidence for the local tin trade.


During the course of the pre-medieval age, the longest period of time covered in this book, major changes took place in maritime technology, from the dugout canoe to the sailing ship, although no sophisticated port facilities have been found. Instead, ‘hards’ or unmodified beaches are more likely. Seafaring was largely coastal, not open sea, even in Roman times, and there are indications that the sea was held in at least some religious awe. More importantly in many ways was the altered mind-set: the development of ever more distant trade networks, the possible use of monuments and natural rock formations as day marks and the idea of ordered trade with rules on value. Although coins were not produced in Cornwall even in the Roman period the locally produced weights demonstrate the presence of commercial worth, albeit as barter.

Notes and References

1 To understand the influence of social behaviour on seafaring and trade, see R.A. Gould. Archaeology and the Social History of Ships (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000).

2 R. Bradley, ‘Pilgrimage in Prehistoric Britain?’, in J. Stopford (ed.), Pilgrimage Explored (Woodbridge: York Medieval Press, 1999).

3 R.J. Schulting and M.P. Richards. ‘The Use of Stable Isotopes in Studies of Subsistence and Seasonality in the British Mesolithic’, in R. Young (ed.), Mesolithic Lifeways: Current Research from Britain and Ireland (Leicester: University of Leicester Press, 2000), pp. 55–65.

4 G.H. Smith. ‘The Lizard Project: Landscape Survey 1978–1983’, Cornish Archaeology 26 (1987), pp. 13–68.

5 P. Berridge and A. Roberts, ‘The Mesolithic Period in Cornwall’, Cornish Archaeology 25 (1986).

6 B. Cunliffe, Facing the Ocean: The Atlantic and Its Peoples, 8000 BC to AD 1500 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

7 C.J. Caseldine, ‘Environmental Change in Cornwall during the last 13,000 years’, Cornish Archaeology 19 (1980), pp. 3–16.

8 P. Marsden, Ships and Shipwrecks (London: English Heritage & Batsford, 1997), p. 22.

9 C. Pickard and C. Bonsall, ‘Deep-Sea Fishing in the European Mesolithic: Fact or Fantasy?’ European Journal of Archaeology 7 (2004), pp. 273–90.

10 P. Rowley-Conwy, ‘Cemeteries, Seasonality and Complexity in the Ertebølle of Southern Scandinavia’, in M. Zvelebil, L. Dománska and R. Dennell (eds), Harvesting the Sea, Farming the Forest: The Emergence of the Neolithic Societies in the Baltic Region (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998), pp. 193–202.

11 A. Fitter, An Atlas of the Wild Flowers of Britain and Northern Europe (London: Collins, 1978).

12 A microlith is a small stone tool and lanceolate means spear shaped.

13 Berridge and Roberts, ‘The Mesolithic Period in Cornwall’.

14 H.L. Cobb, ‘Midden, Meaning, Person, Place: Interpreting the Mesolithic of Western Scotland’, in H.L. Cobb, F. Coward, L. Grimshaw and S. Price (eds), Investigating Prehistoric Hunter-Gatherer Identities: Case Studies from Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Europe, British Archaeological Reports, Int. Series 1411 (Oxford: Archaeopress, 2005), pp. 69–78; D. Telford, ‘The Mesolithic Inheritance: Contrasting Neolithic Monumentality in Eastern and Western Scotland’, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 68 (2002), pp. 289–315.

15 Smith, ‘The Lizard Project’.

16 Schulting and Richards, ‘The Use of Stable Isotopes’.

17 P. Ashbee, ‘Mesolithic Megaliths? The Scillonian Entrance Graves: A New View’, Cornish Archaeology 21 (1982), pp. 3–22; P. Ashbee, ‘Halangy Porth, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, Excavations 1975–76’, Cornish Archaeology 22 (1983), pp. 3–46.

18 Berridge and Roberts, ‘The Mesolithic Period in Cornwall’; R.J. Mercer, ‘The Neolithic in Cornwall’, Cornish Archaeology 25 (1986), pp. 35–80.

19 Gabbroic clay could be fired better than other clays. No proper kiln technology was available in the British Neolithic, so much Neolithic pottery is pretty crumbly.

20 Mercer, ‘The Neolithic in Cornwall’.

21 M. Russell, Neolithic Flint Mines in Britain (Stroud: Tempus, 2001).

22 R.J. Mercer, ‘Excavations at Carn Brea, Illogan, Cornwall’, Cornish Archaeology 20 (1981), pp. 1–204.

23 Ashbee, ‘Mesolithic Megaliths?’; Mercer, ‘The Neolithic in Cornwall’.

24 J. Lichardus and M. Lichardus-Itten, Protohistoire de l’Europe. Le Néolithique et le Chalcolithique. (Paris: P.U.F., 1985); M. Parker Pearson, Bronze Age Britain (London: Batsford/English Heritage, 1993); A. Whittle, Europe in the Neolithic: The Creation of New Worlds (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996).

25 T. Darvill, Prehistoric Britain (1987; London: Routledge, repr. 1996).

26 Parker Pearson, Bronze Age Britain; A. Sheridan and A. Shortland, ‘“Beads which have given rise to so much dogmation, controversy and rash speculation”: Faience in Early Bronze Age Britain and Ireland’, in I.N.G. Shepherd and G.J. Barclay (eds), Scotland in Ancient Europe (Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2004), pp. 94–95.

27 J. Thomas, Time, Culture and Identity: An Interpretive Archaeology (London: Routledge, 1996); J. Thomas, Understanding the Neolithic (London: Routledge, 1999).

28 C. Tilley, A Phenomenology of Landscape (Oxford: Berg, 1994).

29 A ‘lunula’ (plural ‘lunulae’) is a piece of sheet gold cut into the shape of a crescent moon.

30 G. Eogan, The Accomplished Art: Gold and Gold-working in Britain and Ireland during the Bronze Age (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 1995); J.J. Taylor, ‘Lunulae reconsidered’, Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 36 (1970), pp. 38–81.

31 Albeit from British sites outside of Cornwall so far – see Marsden, Ships and Shipwrecks, p. 24.

32 E.V. Wright, R.E.M. Hedges, A. Bayliss and R. Van de Noort, ‘New AMS Radiocarbon Dates for the North Ferriby Boats: A Contribution to Dating Prehistoric Seafaring in Northwestern Europe’, Antiquity 75 (2001), pp. 726–34.

33 J. Coates, ‘The Bronze Age Ferriby Boats: Seagoing Ships or Estuary Ferry Boats?’, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 34 (2005), pp. 38–42; B. Greenhill and J. Morrison, The Archaeology of Boats and Ships: An Introduction (London: Conway Maritime Press, 1995), pp. 119–21; O. Crumlin-Pedersen, ‘The Dover Boat – a Reconstruction Case-Study’, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 35 (2006), pp. 58–71; O.T.P. Roberts, Interpretations of Prehistoric Boat Remains’, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 5 (2006), pp. 72–78.

34 Marsden, Ships and Shipwrecks, p. 23–24.

35 R. Van de Noort, ‘An Ancient Seascape: The Social Context of Seafaring in the early Bronze Age’, World Archaeology 35 (2003–4), pp. 404–15.

36 H.P. Chapman and P.R. Chapman, ‘Seascapes and Landscapes; The Siting of the Ferriby Boat finds in the Context of Prehistoric Pilotage’, International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 34 (2005), pp. 43–50.

37 H.P. Chapman and B.R. Gearey, ‘The Social Context of Seafaring in the Bronze Age Revisited’, World Archaeology 36 (2004), pp. 452–58.

38 Greenhill and Morrison, The Archaeology of Boats and Ships, p. 96.

39 Marsden, Ships and Shipwrecks, p. 29.

40 See Alston Kennerley, ‘Seafarers’ Religion,’ in John B. Hattendorf (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Maritime History Vol. III (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), pp. 422–25.

41 A. Sharpe, ‘Footprints of Former Miners in the Far West’, Cornish Archaeology 31 (1992), pp. 35–40.

42 S. Gerrard, The Early British Tin Industry (Stroud: Tempus, 2000), pp. 14–16.

43 R.A. Ixer and R.A.D. Pattrick, ‘Copper-Arsenic Ores and Bronze Age Mining and Metallurgy with Special Reference to the British Isles’, in P.T. Craddock and J. Lang (eds), Mining and Metal Production Through the Ages (London: The British Museum Press, 2003), pp. 9–20; J.P. Northover, ‘The Earliest Metalworking in Southern Britain’, Der Anschnitt 9 (1999), pp. 211–25.

44 Sheridan and Shortland, ‘“Beads which have given rise”’.

45 V. Fenwick and A. Gale, Historic Shipwrecks. Discovered, Protected and Investigated (Stroud: Tempus, 1999), pp. 26–29.

46 Marsden, Ships and Shipwrecks.

47 For a discussion of pottery distributions see M. Parker Pearson, ‘The Production and Distribution of Bronze Age Pottery in South-west Britain’, Cornish Archaeology 29 (1990), pp. 5–32; and Parker Pearson, Bronze Age Britain.

48 M.S. Copley et al., ‘Dairying in Prehistoric Britain. Milking the Organic Residues’, English Heritage Conservation Bulletin 45 (2004), pp. 24–25.

49 Darvill, Prehistoric Britain, p. 111.

50 Eogan, The Accomplished Art, p. 106.

51 Ibid.

52 R. Osgood, ‘Britain in the Age of Warrior Heroes’, British Archaeology 46 (1999) [accessed 21 March 2004].

53 S. Gerrard, Dartmoor (London: English Heritage/Batsford, 1999).

54 B. Cunliffe, Iron Age Communities in Britain (London: Routledge, 1991).

55 C. Gaffney, J. Gater and F. Robertson, ‘Caer Vallack and Gear Farm. Geophysical Survey Report 2001/77. Caer Vallack and Gear Farm, Cornwall. Report No.: 2001/77’ in A. Stocks (ed.), Gazetteer of Archaeological Investigations undertaken in England 2001. Supplement 12. Geophysical Surveys. South West Region, (Bournemouth University, 2001) [accessed 25April 2006].

56 B. Cunliffe, Hengistbury Head, Dorset, Volume 1: The Prehistoric and Roman Settlement 3500 BC–AD 500, (Oxford: Oxbow, 1987); Cunliffe, Facing the Ocean, p. 404.

57 J. Collis, The European Iron Age (London: Routledge, 1997); Cunliffe, Hengistbury Head.

58 G.C. Boon, ‘A Graeco Roman Anchor Stock from North Wales’, Antiquaries Journal 57 (1977), pp. 10–30, p. 24.

59 A. Tyacke, ‘Chariots of Fire: Symbols and Motifs on recent Iron Age Metalwork Finds in Cornwall’, Cornish Archaeology 41–42 (2002–3), pp. 144–48.

60 For a critique of conventional views that trade with Rome was simply a process of acculturation, see S. Willis, ‘Roman Imports into Late Iron Age British Societies: Towards a Critique of Existing Models’, in: S. Cottam, D. Dungworth, S. Scott and J. Taylor (eds), TRAC 94. Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Theoretical Roman Archaeology Conference, Durham 1994 (Oxford: Oxbow, 1994), pp. 141–50.

61 R.T. Brooks, ‘The Excavation of the Rumps Cliff Castle, St Minver, Cornwall’, Cornish Archaeology 13 (1974), pp. 5–50.

62 C. Johns, ‘An Iron Age Sword and Mirror Cist Burial from Bryher, Isles of Scilly’, Cornish Archaeology 41–42 (2002–3), pp. 1–79.

63 Cunliffe, Facing the Ocean, pp. 350–51.

64 P.R. Davis, ‘Some Navigational Considerations of Pre-Medieval Trade between Cornwall and North-West Europe’, Cornish Archaeology 36 (1997), pp. 129–37; Marsden Ships and Shipwrecks, pp.32–47.

65 See discussion of this evidence in C. Weatherhill, ‘The Ships of the Veneti’, Cornish Archaeology 24 (1985), pp. 163–69.

66 Marsden, Ships and Shipwrecks, pp. 32–38.

67 Greenhill and Morrison, Archaeology of Boats and Ships, pp. 119–21.

68 Marsden, Ships and Shipwrecks, p. 43.

69 The gaming pieces were knucklebones, and the lucky throw of the pieces was known as a Venus, the name of the goddess who also helped those at sea as well as those in love – see Boon, ‘Graeco Roman Anchor Stock’.

70 Boon, ‘Graeco Roman Anchor Stock’.

71 Marsden, Ships and Shipwrecks, pp. 40–42.

72 H. Quinnell, ‘Cornwall during the Iron Age and Roman Period’, Cornish Archaeology 25 (1986), pp. 111–34; P.M. Carlyon, ‘Finds from the Earthwork at Carvossa, Probus’, Cornish Archaeology 26 (1987), pp. 103–44.

73 Now in Charlestown Shipwreck and Maritime Centre.

74 See H. Quinnell, ‘A Sense of Identity: Distinctive Cornish Stone Artefacts in the Roman and Post-Roman Periods’, Cornish Archaeology 32 (1993) – as far as Richborough, Kent (p. 40) and Pudding Lane, London (p. 41)

75 C. Peters, The Archaeology of Cornwall (Fowey: Cornwall Editions, 2005).

76 S.A. Butcher, ‘Roman Nornour, Isles of Scilly: A Reconsideration’, Cornish Archaeology 39–40 (2000–1), pp. 5–44; S.A. Butcher, ‘Excavations at Nornour, Isles of Scilly, 1969–73: The Pre-Roman Settlement’ Cornish Archaeology 17 (1978), pp. 29–112.

77 Butcher, ‘Roman Nornour’, pp. 15–16.

78 F.M. Griffith, ‘Developments in the Study of Roman Military Sites in South-west England’, in W.G. van Waateringe, B.L. Beek, W.J.H. van Willems and S.L. Wynia (eds), Roman Frontier Studies 1995. Proceedings of the XVIth International Congress of Roman Frontier Studies (Oxford: Oxbow, 1995).

79 N. Johnson ‘The Bolster Bank, St Agnes – A Survey’, Cornish Archaeology 19 (1980), pp. 77–88, p. 87.

80 It used to be thought that this system dated to the third or fourth centuries like those in northern England, but excavations have revealed artefacts belonging to the earliest phase of the Roman period.

81 Marsden, Ships and Shipwrecks, pp.44–45.; D.J.P. Mason, Roman Britain and the Roman Navy (Stroud: Tempus, 2000), p. 87.

82 Quinnell, ‘A Sense of Identity’.

83 R.B. Warner, ‘The Carnanton Tin Ingot’, Cornish Archaeology 6 (1967), pp. 29–31.

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