Possible ancient mine discovered in Cornwall

The mine is located at the site of a previously-found Roman fort at Calstock, in the Tamar Valley, pictured here. Photo by Ben Harris, Wikimedia Commons.

Archaeologists from the University of Exeter joined forces with local volunteers to carry out excavations aimed at learning more about the history of Cornwall and ended up discovering a Roman road and possible ancient mine.

The previously-unknown series of deep pits are connected by arched tunnels. According to the British experts, it looks like the place is a mine worked many hundreds of years ago when this area of South East Cornwall and West Devon, in southwestern England, was famed for having some of the richest mineral deposits in the world.

Remains of a medieval timber longhouse suggest the site was later occupied between the 8th and early 13th century but was then deserted

In detail, the mine sits on an area outside the west gate of a previously-found Roman fort at Calstock. This zone was at the front of the fort, originally facing hostile territory.

One of the deep pits cuts into the Roman road, so it is likely that they are later than the Roman military occupation of the area.

Besides the possible mine, the scholars discovered a Roman road, which would have served regular military traffic in and out of the fort. 

The excavation -they said- revealed a rare glimpse of timber-built Roman military buildings constructed outside of the fort, as well as a series of rubbish and cesspits, indicating that the Roman army was also active outside of the fort’s defences.

 “We are very pleased to have found such a well-made Roman road and the possible mine workings have proved a real unexpected bonus. Whilst we still do not know their age, it is possible that they are from the medieval period,” Chris Smart, the scientist from the University of Exeter’s Department of Archaeology who led the excavation, said in a media statement.

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