Faience Bead from Dartmoor

Contributed by Plymouth City Museum

This tiny Bronze Age faience bead was found during archaeological excavations at Shaugh Moor on Dartmoor.

Was tin being extracted in the local area during the Bronze Age? This bead may suggest that it was.Tin has a long and important local history; this bead provides evidence which suggests that it could date back to the Bronze Age. There is a high level of tin in the bead, which is unnecessary for its construction. This and other factors suggest tin might have been mined locally during the Bronze Age. Tin was a valuable resource needed to make bronze and would have been an important trading commodity both within the British Isles and beyond. Why was so much tin in the bead? Possibly it was added due to its value and status. Tin may also have been seen as magical, as in its raw state it is matt black but when processed it becomes silvery and shiny. This bead and others were found at the Bronze Age settlement site of Shaugh Moor on the south west edge of Dartmoor. Extensive field systems and settlement sites make Dartmoor the best preserved Bronze Age landscape in northern Europe.

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  • 1 comment
  • 1. At 22:37 on 15 March 2010, Anna Keleher wrote:

    I read this contribution with interest as I've noticed that a high proportion of Bronze Age settlements in the high moorland zone of Dartmoor have accompanying evidence of(later?) tin extraction. The close proximity of sources of tin( evidence of later mining works) to roundhouse remains, indicates that the"metals of the moor" are possibly responsible for attracting prehistoric miners as far back as the Bronze Age.

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