- THE VILLAGE THE ROMAN'S FORGOT
|A rare relic of ancient Chysauster
spoon has been found at Chysauster, only the second metal object
to survive on this site. With so little evidence, what can we
say for sure about this ancient Cornish village?
is an English Heritage site just outside Penzance.
only living creatures there are archaeologists, day trippers, and the
odd rabbit. But around 2,000 years ago it was a small Celtic village,
built at the same time the Romans were colonising the rest of Britain.
was occupied over a 400 year period between around 100BC and 300AD, probably
by the Dumnonii tribe. It was made up of a group of stone huts complete
with hearth stones and various household items.
much remains of Chysauster
didn't venture far beyond the Tamar so the Cornish were left largely to
get on with their own affairs.
The inhabitants survived by farming and livestock raising.
Evidence of field enclosures show where cattle were prevented from getting
The landscape hasn't changed much since that time - Celtic
field patterns and mixture of arable and pastoral farming. The only clues
as to what life was like in ancient Chysauster.
a workman was sent to erect a new sign
When he cuaght
sight of the metal object, he knew he'd found something of significance,
but didn't know just how significant.
Charlie Johns, County Archaeologist,
was amazed. He passed the articat on to Carl Thorp, who identified it
as a 2,000 year old spoon.
an alloy of copper and tin, was almost certainly made from metals found
What made the find so amazing is that metal was so valuable in ancient
times that it was normally recycled - leaving no trace of the past.
spoon could have been used by herbalists
The tin and
copper trade was already well established by 40 AD. The Celts exchanged
metals with the Romans for luxury goods at St Michael's Mount, the main
port in the area at the time.
But so much
lay about the Cornish landscape there was no need to dig mines to find
it. And perhaps this relative glut of metal led to the spoon's survival.
spoon they kept - so what was it used for?
think it could have been a medicine spoon. The Celts had their own science
and medicine, Celtic herbalists gathering and growing herbs to treat the
the spoon may have had a more mundane use - for opening and scooping out
the flesh of the mussels that grow all around the Cornish coast.
the truth of the matter, one thing is for certain.
spoon will give historians and archaeologists something to talk about
over dinner for years to come.