Thursday, 15 June 2017

Reading the Hurlers group visit to Stonehenge

Reading the Hurlers group visit to Stonehenge


As part of the Reading the Hurlers project, 55 U3A members visited Stonehenge on 9th April.  The aim of the visit was to put the early Bronze Age site of The Hurlers into the wider context of late Neolithic and Bronze Age sites in the British Isles.  And what better place to visit!  For some members of the group, it was their first time visiting this impressive stone age site.

Fortunately, the weather was set fair for the day and as the coach left Saltash, the sun was shining and spirits were high.  Once at the visitor centre, the group took time to view the exhibition and reconstruction of Neolithic roundhouses before geologist Calum Beeson explained the geology of the stones used to build the monument.  Guided by Caradon Archaeology Group members Iain Rowe and Pete Crispin, the group headed along the cursus to view the stones before a brisk walk back to the coach and the all-important look around the gift shop.

Geology group members examine a stone up close
Pat Fitzsimmons (Saltash U3A geology group lead) with fellow members
One of the group members described the visit as “fantastic…I didn’t realise there was so much to see” whist another U3A member explained how the site was “so atmospheric.  I’ve driven past in the car and you see photos of Stonehenge, but visiting it is a totally different experience.  It really gets you thinking about the past and how people used to live”. 

Along the ancient route of the cursus to Stonehenge
Huge thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund for making this trip possible, Pat Fitzsimmons who leads the Saltash U3A geology group, our two guides Iain Rowe and Pete Crispin and RTH project co-ordinators Calum Beeson and Emma Stockley. 

Nigel dowsing for lines of significance on the way to the stones
Geologist Calum Beeson reading the Stonehenge guidebook
Our educational guides for the day, Pete Crispin (left) and Iain Rowe

Reading the Hurlers final event at Carnglaze Caverns

Reading the Hurlers final event at Carnglaze Caverns

The Reading the Hurlers end-of-project event took place at Carnglaze Caverns on Friday 26th May attended by over 70 people.  The owners, Caroline and Graham, kindly allowed the use of the largest of the slate caverns for the evening event which revealed the results of the geological surveys and the project’s archaeological excavation which took place in September 2016.  Jacky Nowakowski, Principle Archaeologist at Cornwall Archaeological Unit and Calum Beeson, geologist at Camborne School of Mines gave talks summarising the project findings and members of Saltash U3A geology group provided tea, coffee, hot chocolate and homemade cakes and biscuits.  The former slate mine made a spectacular and truly unique setting and what better place to finish out official series of geological and archaeological talks than an underground cavern!

Thank you to Caroline and Graham at Carnglaze ( for kindly allowing us to use the venue, RTH project co-ordinators Emma Stockley and Calum Beeson, Jacky Nowakowski, Pat Fitzsimmons and her army of U3A helpers who assisted with baking, car parking, clearing and tidying, Peter Jackson for his IT technical expertise.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Reading the Hurlers – The Results Revealed!

Reading the Hurlers – The Results Revealed!

Join us at Carnglaze Cavens and discover where the Hurlers came from as we reveal the results of the Reading the Hurlers Project

Friday 26th May 2017, Carnglaze Caverns, 7pm for a 7.30pm start

Come and join us for an evening at Carnglaze Caverns to find out the results of the Reading the Hurlers project.
The event is free but tickets need to be booked in advance. Car parking is limited so please car share wherever possible. 

Refreshments will be provided for a donation.

There will be a raffle with proceeds going to the U3A geology group.


Looking forward to seeing you there!

For more information, please contact Emma Stockley

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Reading the Hurlers – The Story So Far

Reading the Hurlers – The Story So Far

Friday 10 March:

Cornwall Archaeological Society - 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm,  St Martins LOWER Church Hall.

Emma Stockley and members of the team will present an update on the continuing project Reading the Hurler with details of the excavation which took place in September 2016.  As well as a report on the excavation, the lecture will include an overview of the project findings to date and an update on the community engagement elements of the project.

For more details:

Thursday, 20 October 2016

St Petroc’s Church Primary School at the Hurlers

St Petroc’s Church of England Primary complete our school visits programme!

On 6th and 7th October, year three from St Petroc’s Church of England Primary School, Bodmin visited The Hurlers and surrounding area for an active day of archaeology and geology.  41 pupils arrived each morning at the Heritage Centre carpark to be met by geologist Calum Beeson, archaeologist Emma Stockley, volunteers from Saltash U3A and Reading the Hurlers’ Moorland Guides, Steve Hopkins, Paul Lovell and Keith Rawlings.  The days were in stark contrast to one another with the 6th being beautifully cold and clear whilst the 7th was misty and wet.  Each visit started with a walk to Rillaton Barrow to discuss how archaeologists use evidence to learn more about how people lived in the past and a stop at our recent Cornwall Archaeological Unit-led excavation, was an opportunity to learn more about the process of an archaeological dig.  A fun activity at The Hurlers involving a lot of running gave everyone a chance to warm up before lunch at The Heritage Centre.  Calum led the afternoon activities by explaining the mining landscape before wowing everyone with 400 million years of geological history in under 15 minutes – complete with examples of cassiterite, slate, pillow lava, copper ore and galena.  In between activities we saw frogs, birds of prey, woolly caterpillars and of course the ponies, sheep and cattle.  Despite the cold and at times, the wind and rain, all 82 children and their accompanying teachers and parents had a fantastic and very memorable experience.

The visits by St Petroc’s complete the Reading the Hurlers programme of school trips and the project has succeeded in enabling 274 local primary and secondary school children to experience at day on Bodmin Moor exploring the area’s prehistory and geology.  We have worked hard to ensure that our schools programme is accessible to all and our visits have included children with a range of additional needs including autism, mobility issues and those needing extra social and emotional support.

Huge thanks go to Cornwall Heritage Trust who have financially supported our schools programme, the U3A volunteers who have provided additional help and support on the day (special mention to Saltash U3A geology club leader Pat Fitzsimmons) and our Moorland Guides, Steve, Paul and Keith.  Lastly a big thank you to all the teachers and pupils who have participated – we couldn’t have done this without you!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

A big thanks to CAU!

A big thanks to CAU!

Now our excavation has finished and the turf is starting to bed in, it is a good time to say a huge thanks to Jacky Nowakowski and James Gossip from Cornwall Archaeological Unit for leading the Reading the Hurlers excavation.  CAU played a key part in the development of the archaeological element of Reading the Hurlers and co-ordinated the dig volunteers.

As well as leading the excavation, CAU also contributed to our public engagement programme throughout the dig week.  Jacky was on-hand to provide background information to members of the public and school groups.  We were also lucky enough to have the finds from the 1930’s excavation at The Hurlers which Jacky explained to site visitors.  James ensured that that all volunteers had the opportunity to learn archaeological surveying and excavation skills – something that was greatly appreciated by our student excavators. 

Many thanks from the RTH team – we look forward to working with you again! 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Archaeologists uncover new monument on Bodmin Moor

Archaeologists uncover new monument on Bodmin Moor

Archaeologists have been excavating a new site close to The Hurlers stone circles on Bodmin Moor over the last week.  The excavation, which took place between 13th and 18th September was part of the Reading the Hurlers project largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with support from the Cornwall Heritage Trust.  Around fifty volunteers along with Cornwall Archaeological Society, the local community, Truro College and universities including UCL were involved in the dig, as well as amateur geologists from Caradon Amateur Geology Group and Saltash U3A geology group.

The aim of the excavation was to identify whether a group of stones in a circular formation formed part of a ‘fourth’ stone circle, close to The Hurlers.  Whilst this was found not to be the case, the discovery of a stone-lined socket hole at the base of large recumbent stone has led the project archaeologists to believe that the area was once the site of a large standing stone, possibly at the head of a processional avenue leading to The Hurlers themselves.  The same trench also revealed the tip of a late-Neolithic flint arrow head.  The flint tool, probably knapped from a locally sourced beach pebble, was broken soon after use and showed little sign of wear.  Archaeologist and project co-ordinator Emma Stockley said “this is a fantastic outcome for the project.  We have discovered the existence of a new standing stone that would have been an important part of the landscape around The Hurlers.  The volunteers have worked incredibly hard and we couldn’t have done this without them”.  Preliminary geological studies on a number of the larger excavated stones, some over two metres in length, are intriguing and suggest that the granite has not come from the immediate area.  Geological project co-ordinator Calum Beeson elaborates ""we've had volunteers carrying out geological surveys on the newly excavated stones and have found that one of the larger stones did not come from the immediate area and does not appear to have travelled there through natural processes.  This suggests that it was carried to its current location by human activities"".  Further studies will continue to shed more light on this ancient site.

The site’s open day attracted hundreds of visitors including history groups, dowsers, tourists and local families.  Guided walks led by Iain Rowe attracted over 70 people and a popular all-day astro-archaeology workshop was led by Brain Sheen and volunteers from the Roseland Observatory. Experts from CAU were on hand all day talking to members of the public and showing them around the dig site. 

The excavation received numerous visitors over the week and schools were invited, giving over 80 local pupils the opportunity to view the excavation in progress, question the archaeologists and voice their own theories for the presence of The Hurlers.  Pupils were shown Bronze Age flint tools and a replica bronze axe head and learnt more about how people lived on Bodmin Moor 4000 years ago. 

The trenches were backfilled on Sunday and the excavation site will continue to be fenced for a further few weeks to enable the turf to re-stablish.

The project findings and report will be available over the next few months, here on the project website and the project team will be giving a series of talks locally in the new year.