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Probe starts to uncover Stone Age temple ruins

By West Briton  |  Posted: August 30, 2012

Archaeologist Laura Ratcliffe, from Cornwall Council's historic environment projects department, starting the work on the site on the outskirts of Truro.

Archaeologist Laura Ratcliffe, from Cornwall Council's historic environment projects department, starting the work on the site on the outskirts of Truro.

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CORNWALL'S first historic temple could be unearthed by archaeologists in Truro.

After being buried for nearly 6,000 years the experts think they have spotted a Stone Age temple on the outskirts of the city.

Archaeologists from the historic environments project at Cornwall Council have begun an eight-week excavation on two hectares (about five acres) of land at the junction of the A39 Newquay Road and the A390 St Austell Road.

The site was discovered during the planning phase for the Truro Eastern District Centre, which will include a Waitrose supermarket and second park-and-ride.

The area was deemed to be of high historical significance and a geo-physical survey has revealed possible structures dating from the early Neolithic to the Roman occupation of Britain, representing a vast swathe of the county's history.

The first areas to be excavated will contain a series of boundary posts from the Roman and pre-Roman period, which may reveal clues to the lives of ancient inhabitants.

But the greatest excitement surrounds images of a structure some 80m in diameter dating from 3,700BC.

Encircled by a segmented trench, it appears to be similar in construction and design to temple ruins in other parts of the UK. But this could be the first discovered in Cornwall.

Andrew Young, who oversees historic environment projects, said: "These structures have often been used in early religious ceremonies, and we hope to find large quantities of animal bones as an indicator of wide-scale feasting and sacrifice.

"However, these sites often also seemed to be flash points for skirmishes so it is quite possible that we may find skeletons skewered with arrow heads."

Before any serious digging can begin the field must be cleared of the thistles but it is hoped that excavations on this key structure will get under way in the next couple of weeks.

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