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Cornwall Archaeology Student Field Trip 2009

10 April 2009

From Monday 6th to Thursday 9th of April, twenty-one students from the School of History and Archaeology participated in a field trip to Cornwall, partly funded by the Cyril Fox fund. Postgraduate students James Rodliff (MA Archaeology) and Morwenna Perrott (MSc Care of Collections) organised the trip, which included arranging all transport, accommodation and site visits. The trip was designed to be both a practical method for furthering student’s research, as well as a stimulus for discussing some of the current issues in conservation and heritage. 

Due to the remote locations of some of the sites to be visited, the use of a minibus was impractical, therefore a 9-seater minivan was hired and three students volunteered the use of their own vehicles. The first planned destination for the trip was Grimspound; a large late Bronze Age walled settlement high on Dartmoor. The hilly moorland landscape unfortunately proved a bit too much for the minivan, which required an unscheduled stop to let the clutch cool down. Following this, we journeyed to James Peake’s (MSc Conservation) North Devon farm, for the first overnight stay.  There, the participants were welcomed with a warm meal, refreshments and a cozy fire set up by James’ parents.

On Tuesday morning we drove down the North coast to a sunny Tintagel, to explore the island, village and the legendary castle. The site itself is extremely important for understanding the socio-political climate of post-Roman Britain; as well as the power expressed by the Medieval Dukes of Cornwall, whose castle remains still dominate the headland. After stocking up at the local pasty shop, we set off for Bodmin Moor in order to observe the prehistoric landscape around Rough Tor. This area boasts fantastic preservation of both domestic and ritual sites, from the early Neolithic to the early Iron Age. 

Gathered on and around Chun Quoit, Charlie Johns far right. Image © James Rodliff.

Gathered on and around Chun Quoit, Charlie Johns far right. Image © James Rodliff.

Wednesday morning was wonderfully sunny and a perfect day for exploring West Penwith and the many standing Megalithic monuments. At the first site, Chun Castle, we met Charlie Johns, Senior Archaeologist with Cornwall Historic Environment Service. He also accompanied us to Chun Quoit and Men-an-Tol. During his visit we discussed aspects of landscape history, monumentalisation and site evolution. We then made our way to Ballowall Barrow, a large multi-phase chambered tomb near Land’s End. The last stop of the day was Carn Euny, which boasts an impressive ‘Fogou’, or soutterain.

On the last morning the students separated to explore parts of the historic town and port of Falmouth and its museums. Time was also taken to sample the local delicacies such as cream teas, and to shop for mementos. Feeling windblown, sun-kissed and rather exhausted, everyone discussed how successful and informative the trip had been; with talk of a possible field trip to West Wales in the summer already starting to surface.

Assembled at the enigmatic Men-an-Tol stone formation.  Image © James Rodliff.

Assembled at the enigmatic Men-an-Tol stone formation. Image © James Rodliff.

This trip would not have been possible without the co-ordination, assistance and enthusiasm of a great many people. Thank you to the Cyril Fox Fund for financially assisting the trip and making it possible for so many to attend. Also to the lecturers of the School of History and Archaeology for their support and advice. Thanks to Morwenna Perrott for helping me with the organisation, the drivers for their participation, and everyone else who took part in the trip for making it so successful.

James Rodliff
May 2009