Rush To Save Scilly’s Historic Artefacts From Coastal Erosion

bronze age potsThere’s been a rush to investigate important historical sites in Scilly following the recent storms.

St Mary’s Archaeologist Katharine Sawyer says the Bronze Age settlement at Halangy Down has steadily been eroding over the years and items often drop out of the cliff-face onto the beach.

But she says this winter’s storms have brought down more earth than “for a very long time.”

And that means she’s often had just 30 minutes to extract important objects before they’re destroyed by the next wave of bad weather.

Katharine says two complete Bronze Age pots have been uncovered, although it’s been impossible to get them out intact, due to the fragile nature of the artefacts.

Previous digs at the site found traces of fat from marine animals in the pots, suggesting they were used for lighting.

Katharine says the emergency work has been done on a voluntary basis but the Isles of Scilly Museum is now looking for grant funding to allow more detailed investigations.

The Museum is part of the Shorewatch Project, which tries to record rapidly disappearing sites through annual photographic surveys.

But Katharine says this year, the change has been so rapid that they’ve been taking pictures on a weekly or even daily basis at times.

She’s asked anyone who finds pottery or flint that might have fallen out of the cliff to make a note of the location and take it to the Museum.

If you spot something in the cliff itself, then please don’t try to get it out, says Katharine, but again, let the Museum know.

She says the location and surroundings of the objects are important because they give clues about what they were used for.