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North Devon in 100 Objects: 50. The Holworthy Pot

The base of an excavated pot from roughly 3000 years ago.

Last used over 3,000 years ago, this is the Holworthy pot which was excavated in 2005 from a Bronze Age settlement at Holworthy Farm, Parracombe. When North Devon Archaeological Society opened up the site, almost the very first evidence to come to light were the part intact remains of a clay pot half buried in what turned out to be the floor of a large circular building. The pot was carefully lifted and was sent for professional conservation, resulting in what you see here. The vessel’s shape and decoration identify it as Bronze Age ‘Trevisker ware’, a style known from Cornwall.

Radio-carbon dates gained from charcoal revealed that the site had been occupied from about 1500 BC until roughly 1200 BC when it was abandoned in a very deliberate way. Rather than drifting away, leaving the building to fall down, the inhabitants had dismantled the house, removing the posts and stopping up the holes with a stone. In addition they had left behind objects of everyday life carefully positioned within the post-ring. The pot had been set half into the ground and once buried by natural processes, may have remained intact until medieval ploughs sheared off the top. The deliberate dismantling and the careful placing of domestic items suggest that departure from a place that had been home for generations had to be done with care and respect. Similar departure behaviour has been observed at other sites in the South West.

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