St Martin’s Neolithic Site Unlikely To See More Excavation Soon

The dig on St Martin's

The dig on St Martin’s

The archaeologist who oversaw this summer’s second excavation on St Martin’s says his team is unlikely to return next year, even though the Old Quay is one of the most significant Neolithic sites in the UK.

Reading University’s Dr Duncan Garrow led a team of ten people who uncovered around 4,000 shards of pottery and 11,000 flints dating back as far as 3,500 BC. Finds included a rare ‘mace head’ axe.

Duncan says the amount of material is “massive” and “only a small portion of the site has been dug.”

But funding constraints mean it is unlikely that support would be on offer for documenting and cataloguing anything found in another dig.

Recording these finds is just as important as the excavation, Duncan says, and he feels archaeologists now have a sense of what the site contains and how significant it is.

The work confirms settlement occurred in Scilly at an earlier period that previously thought.

The team found 30 postholes, which might have been part of structures from settlements stretching back to 3,500 years BC. He says they don’t form a neat pattern so might indicate either temporary buildings or several different structures overlaying each other at different periods.

And those inhabitants, like many people living in Scilly today, could have been seasonal, making a precarious crossing in a sail-free, skin-shelled boat.

Duncan says it is unlikely that there will be any move to get the site legally protected as most of the archaeology is under the ground.

The land usage is low intensity so it isn’t under human threat although coastal erosion is an issue, as it is in many places in Scilly.