Thursday, 31 July 2014

Whitehorse Hill: A Prehistoric Dartmoor Discovery

We recently provided sponsorship for Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery’s forthcoming autumn exhibition, ‘Whitehorse Hill: A Prehistoric Dartmoor Discovery’.

The exhibition will feature some amazing archaeological finds dating back to the Bronze Age, a brilliant glimpse into the personal and prized possessions of someone who lived on the moor nearly 4,000 years ago.

The finds were discovered within a stone chest burial (a ‘cist’) at Whitehorse Hill, a remote moorland ridge on northern Dartmoor, over 600 metres above sea level. The cist contained the cremated remains of what is believed to be a female aged 15-25 years old.

One of the most amazing and exciting finds was a bag containing two pairs of wooden studs or ‘labrets’. These may have been used as body or clothing adornments and are the earliest evidence for wood turning in the UK.

The bag also held a group of over 200 beads (pictured above). This is by far the largest number excavated from a single early Bronze Age site in South West England. They could have once formed a spectacular necklace.

Many of the beads are made from clay not local to Dartmoor. Others are made of shale from Dorset. A cylindrical tin bead and traces of a second tin bead are the earliest examples of tin ever to be found on Dartmoor. Seven amber beads suggest this was a high status burial as amber is an exotic resin from the Baltic, often associated with supernatural powers.

There will be a series of events too, including lectures, gallery talks and family-friendly workshops. The exhibition will be open 
at the Museum and Art Gallery from 10am to 5.30pm Tuesday to Friday and 10am to 5pm on Saturdays, free of charge.

More information about the exhibition is available from