Time Team (1994) s18e01 Episode Script

Reservoir Rituals

Welcome to Dartmoor, one of the richest and best-mapped prehistoric landscapes in Britain.
But not all of it has been investigated, and there's a very good reason for that, because for the last 150 years, this has been at the bottom of the reservoirs that supply the people of Torquay with their drinking water.
Fast forward to the present day, and the reservoir's looking pretty empty.
Because the local water company have decided to pull the plug, and give us a unique opportunity to explore a lost world.
This could be some of the best prehistoric archaeology in Britain.
The only problem is, now we've got rid of the water, how are we going to cope with the mud? It really is very difficult.
Tottiford Reservoir is in an out-of-the-way valley in the eastern edge of Dartmoor.
It's an isolated spot, so just getting into the site is a huge logistical feat, needing all our manpower.
The reservoir's been here since 1861, when an incredible 30 million gallons of water were flooded into the lower part of the valley.
But a couple of years ago, when the water levels were low, a local out for a walk spotted some mysterious stones sticking out of the mud.
He called Jane Marchand from the Dartmoor National Park Authority, who became the first to investigate this hidden site.
Why hasn't anyone discovered them before? Well, because they've laid under Tottiford Reservoir water since 1861, when the reservoir was created, and before that period I don't think people were coming out looking at local archaeology.
It's a bit early for the excavations on Dartmoor, which began in about 1880.
What would you like us to find? 0h, basically to give some idea of the chronology of these monuments, because we quite often get them together.
We get circles, rows and burial cairns.
So some dates, and whether they were all contemporary, or one was earlier, and that decided the later ones.
So it's what, where, why Yeah.
in three days in the mud? Yeah.
In three days In the mud? That's it, yeah.
Think you can do it? Thank you so much.
There could be a complete prehistoric site waiting to be discovered beneath all this mud.
But the prehistoric is a fantastically long period of time, and covers everything before the Roman conquest of Britain nearly 2,000 years ago.
Your perfect site.
It's a dream, Tony.
I mean you could actually walk across it, and stub your toe on the prehistory.
I'm used to having to dig down to get it, where here it's at the surface.
Why are you here, though? Well, Dartmoor's been an interest of mine for about 40 years now, and it's because of that.
It's because, you know, unlike almost anywhere else, you can walk through a Bronze Age landscape.
It's mainly because I've got to look after him! I've got to keep an eye on him, make sure he does things properly.
We talk blithely about prehistory, but what exactly do we mean on this site? Late Neolithic sites, the end of the Stone Age and Bronze Age, so very roughly, from about 3,000 to about 1,500 BC.
Do you think the sites might all have been from the same period? Yes, I do.
I think, essentially the same period, although there's one enigmatic mound in the middle, which has got me scratching my head.
As well as the mysterious mound in the middle, what we've been told we've got from the initial survey is a stone circle, two rows of stones in a line, which could be some kind of walkway, a single row of stones, and some other prehistoric stuff dotted throughout the site.
Piles of rocks that might be cairns, where people buried their dead.
If we can prove all of this, it'll be an archaeologist's dream.
Well, John, is this the first time you've done a survey in the bottom of a reservoir? Yeah.
'Although, for John, it's the stuff of nightmares.
' I mean, is it going to be plain sailing? We have got problems, and that's mainly the granite.
I don't know how magnetic it's going to be.
So the fact that the granite has originated from a volcano, that volcanic activity may actually affect the magnetics, which affect your machine? Yes, and we can confuse that with what might be burning, or settlement activity.
So we'll give it a try.
But I mean, how about the silt itself? Is that going to be a problem? I think what we'll try there is actually radar.
(LAUGHS) Yes! You're actually going to drag that wheeled trolley out across the mud? Yeah, because that would hopefully give us the profile of that old land surface, get profiles of the valley, and then build up a 3D picture.
Well, I hope you succeed.
As long as we don't lose Jimmy in the silts.
So it could all turn into one big mud bath.
Whose idea was this? I don't know.
Jimmy's stuck in the incident room, in the dry.
But thankfully other parts of the site are better for the magnetometry and radar to see if there's anything else lurking beneath the surface.
Although the first results are far from conclusive.
The good news is the granite is not as magnetic as we thought it might have been.
0h, right.
Having said that we can't see the cairns or the stone alignment.
Can you not see where the stone alignment goes under the bank at the side of the reservoir? Well, there's hints of things, but I wouldn't really recognise them.
So really, if we're going to do anything here we've got to go with what we can see, rather than anything you can tell us? Maybe as we do a bigger landscape Yeah.
you know, we can get a better picture, Presumably you won't let us stop at this stage? No! We can't wait for geo-phys to sort themselves out, we've got to get on with the dig.
So we're starting at the end of the single aligned row of stones.
Phil's putting the first trench over this pile of stones, which we're calling the 'Terminal Cairn'.
Cairns are rock-covered burial mounds, so we're looking for any evidence of burial to try and get an idea of what the site was used for.
While Matt is opening up trench two on the two cairns immediately south of the big mound.
You can see the large one right there.
You can see the large one right there.
0h, yeah.
There's a little one just in front of us.
There's a little one just in front of us.
Yeah, yeah.
For the moment, we're just cleaning up all this silt, just so we get the full extent of them all, and then we'll half-section them.
We'll get a run of string across from there to there and, after we've planned and photographed it, we'll start carefully taking out this side of each cairn.
Underneath there could be a burial, ritual offerings, so that's another thing we're looking forward to.
I'll come back when you've got further, see how you're getting on.
You know, this doesn't look much like Dartmoor, does it? I imagined Dartmoor as this treeless, rocky place, a kind of blank landscape.
I think it's quite well represented by this ordinance survey map.
'Helen and Stewart have begun their investigation into why 'our site looks so different to the rest of Dartmoor, 'and give us a snapshot of what prehistoric life was like here.
' 0n this side of the map, where we are, this is an intensity of fields and settlement, which shows it's been cultivated for a long time.
Very different to the Dartmoor landscape we have up here, which is bleak.
Remember, in prehistory you're dealing with a totally different landscape.
There was more trees, more activity, prehistoric farmers were cultivating land, and over a long period of time you get into a kind of cycle of soil deterioration.
Eventually, the settlements and so on aren't valid any more, so it changed over time.
And so is it that we see all the prehistory today because there's nothing else that's come later to take them away? That's exactly right.
The conditions weren't attractive for the medieval farmers, and the intensity of agriculture and settlement, so they've been left behind - all those stone circles and settlements.
We can still see them.
Making this very unusual.
It is, because what we've got here is a stone circle in the bottom of a valley.
'And that makes our prehistoric site unique in Dartmoor archaeology.
'We want to make the most of this incredible opportunity,' 'so Francis isn't wasting any time 'in opening up the double stone row nearest to the mound.
' 12 o'clock, day one, you've already put in the third trench.
Bit of a digging frenzy, isn't it? Well, not really, Tony.
This is an incredibly busy landscape.
But how do we know that's prehistoric? Couldn't that come from any period? If it was just the individual stone, yes, perhaps it could be.
But, in this case, we've got an arrangement of stones, two parallel lines.
That is, broadly speaking, only ever found in late Neolithic, early Bronze Age monuments.
How do you know? I can't see anything at all.
You can't, unfortunately, because only one or two survived above ground.
What do you think this is all about? Well, you know that big mound? Yeah.
Well, I think it's got a sort of tail coming down in this direction, and then heading off over there.
And I think that would have formed a big, dry ridge.
Maybe, you know, they had ceremonial processions.
And then, as part of marking out this processional way, they put a big setting of double stones.
So it could just be a nice little path, but it could be ritual? I think it's ritual, Tony.
I've heard that one before! 'But I'll go along with Francis' theory for the time being.
' Some important clues could be on the mound.
Flint was found here during the initial survey, and today it's attracted our flint-obsessed anoraks like moths to a flame.
The only trouble is, it could completely rewrite the history of this Bronze Age site, as Phil's found something that dates much earlier.
There's this gorgeous little end scrape, you can see the way it's been retouched so lovingly all the way round there.
Now, that is the work of a skilled craftsman, somebody who really loved his work.
Can you put a date on it? They are difficult to date in isolation.
We really could do with some more of this flint work, but my initial instinct is to think this is early, and when I say early, I think it's earlier than these stone monuments.
That's really exciting, isn't it? Because that means you've got this early mound here, with some sort of activity going on, and then later people have built this path up to it.
I think that this mound is the focus, this is what drew people in originally, and then that these stone monuments were drawn in around them.
Look at you clutching your scraper! I know! It's lovely, though.
You're like a kid in a sweet shop, aren't you? I know, I know! But you see, I've made so many of these things, this takes me back to the real people, who made these things.
It's turning into quite a good dig, isn't it? It's the afternoon of day one, and we're working on the bottom of what's thankfully an empty reservoir in Devon.
We've already put in three trenches on what are hopefully three different prehistoric monuments, that we suspect date from the Bronze Age.
Trench one is over what we think is a 'terminal burial cairn', at the end of a single row of stones.
We've put in trench two on two piles of rocks that might be more burial cairns.
And trench three is over a double row of stones, that we suspect was a processional way leading up to a mound, which Francis thinks is the central part of the whole site.
It's possible that the mound was here for thousands of years before these monuments were even built, as we've got dating evidence from flint found on top.
If we're right, and it is this vast, prehistoric ceremonial landscape, what's it mean, what's it for? Well, what it was for was the different things in people's lives that they want made formal and ceremonial.
So these cairns would be when someone passes on to the next world.
This double stone row could be a procession that marked when a new chief came to power, something like that.
This stone circle was where people celebrated the changing of the seasons.
So it's like a combination of a church and a registry office? And a town hall, yes.
It's all there, and the thing is, it all seems to fit together, Tony.
It's almost too good to be true.
It is.
'0f course, all these theories 'rely on the dates of these monuments tying together.
' I mean, I think it looks like these stones here, from this cairn, are later than these ones here.
0ver in trench one, we've got major doubts about the 'terminal cairn' being prehistoric, especially when you compare it with the single stone row.
is the cairn earlier or later than the stone row? And we should get it in that section.
Fair enough.
And it's not looking any better in trench two, either, as we're uncovering evidence that the cairns aren't prehistoric at all.
We've removed the silt here.
Can you see this really fine, almost clay on top there? That was the reservoir silt and it's sitting on top of this dark layer, which was the ground surface in 1860, when the reservoir was filled.
And here's our cairn.
And you can see that the stones of the cairn are sitting happily right on top of the 1860 ground surface.
And that means, Raksha? Well, it means that it's not prehistoric, and we know that because it's literally just sat on top of that black surface.
It's not cut into that, so there isn't a specific cut made for it.
Does this mean that all the piles of stones around the reservoir are likely to be from the 1860s? Well, that one's 1860.
This one here as well, that's also clearly sitting on top of that old ground surface.
The cairns that we have are coming in a line along the edge of the reservoir, they're all in a nice line.
My bet is, none of them are prehistoric.
I seem to remember, not long ago, saying that this all seemed to good to be true.
Scarily, I was right.
Since we've proved that the cairns aren't prehistoric, what on Earth does that mean for the rest of the site? Could the double stone row be the next to go? That hole, what? Was a stone in there once? Yeah, that's a really nice robber.
It's been pulled out, presumably when the reservoir's been done.
Yeah, it looks about that level.
Then over here, we've got another stone, the one that matched that.
0h, yes.
I mean, I think we've got the hole, haven't we, for the stone? It looks like it.
You can see that small rock standing down there.
That's a classic wedging for a stone in a stone row.
And the other thing of course, we've got this stony stuff.
Do you think that could be the remains of a walkway? It's degraded down, and it's covering the surface, so this must have been the point at which this was open to walk up and down on.
I think that's brilliant.
0K, I'm convinced, especially with that little packing stone there, that this is a prehistoric double stone row.
I'm in little doubt about it.
So Francis is very happy with his double stone row.
But other parts of the site have got us scratching our heads.
Could have easily have been set up which could have fallen over.
We've got another massive monument to investigate, and Helen and Stewart are getting their heads round it - the stone circle.
They're looking much more into the centre Now this is the one that's vastly off the line.
They're not sure that the stones are even in a circle.
It's too late in the day to put in another trench, so the plan is to start digging tomorrow, to try to prove the stones are prehistoric, and form a circle.
Have you got something going on over there? Back in trench one, Phil and Faye may just have found some conclusive evidence that dates the single stone row.
There is you know.
There's a cut The good news is that it's prehistoric.
That is the hole that has got our long row of stones in.
There's a cut.
You can trace it from where your trowel is, that's it.
Now if you go on up with your trowel, up there, keep going, that's right, it cuts right the way through that light grey.
So, what the sequence is, they've cut a hole, that's the line you've just scored.
Then they put the stones in, then the whole lot is filled in with that dark grey stuff, that's it there.
And then the whole thing is sealed off by that very, very dark top soil, that old ground surface.
This stuff all the way along here? That's right, and then the cairn goes on the top of that.
That is our sequence.
So basically, we were right.
The cairn is later than these.
Ah, but it's really nice to see the archaeology prove it though! Although the cairn isn't prehistoric, it's helped us to prove that the single stone row almost certainly is.
We still don't know why this row of single stones is here, so could Francis's idea of a ritual landscape be falling apart? Up until about an hour ago we thought we had the perfect prehistoric site, with monuments coming up all over the place.
But now it seems that that cairn isn't prehistoric at all, it's probably about 150 years old, and may well have been a base used for machinery.
So have we got a prehistoric site, or is it a building site? There's certainly a prehistoric site here, but rather more of it relates to that reservoir building.
I think some of the other mounds do, some of these lines out here, I suspect are probably field boundaries from that period.
So what are we going to do tomorrow? Well, if you look on the geophysics, you'll see that the mound we're on is this noisy oval area here.
That's where Phil found the flints this morning.
And so we're going to do some sampling on that to get more evidence.
So test pits, which we'll sieve, here.
And then I want to go down there, to the sort of focus of the whole site, this stone circle, because to be honest I'm having serious doubts about it.
0h! So will all our dreams turn to dust tomorrow, or do we have anything prehistoric here at all? Fingers crossed.
Yeah, yeah we do have, we do! You say you do, on the basis of what? Half a dozen holes?! We've dug holes! Beginning of day two here at Tottiford in Devon where we're looking at a prehistoric site on the bottom of a reservoir.
Although it got a bit worrying yesterday because a lot of doubt was cast on the date of some of the features in the reservoir, although Francis is pretty confident that this mound here is prehistoric and you do look as though you've been here all night! Feels like it I've been here in my brain, Tony.
What's your brain been telling the rest of your body? If the double stones are a processional way, what are they leading to? Well, the only thing they could possibly lead to is this great mound.
So this great mound becomes incredibly important.
I mean if you remember Phil and his merry men found a load of flints yesterday, and so what I want to do now is to put some test pits, some small holes which we'll sieve very, very carefully to try to find flints and with any luck we might actually work out what was happening up here.
We believe we've got a late Neolithic or Bronze Age double stone row, that may have acted as a processional way leading to a central mound which we think is thousands of years earlier.
This is turning out to be a more complex site than we thought.
That, that's the first one there.
0K Raksha, if you go in pit one - I don't know what the numbers are but let's call it pit one.
To try and understand what's going on, the plan is to dig four small pits in ten metre sections along the mound, to see how much flint there is and to help us date the site.
The person who gets the most flints gets a glass of cheap white wine when we get back home, all right.
Most flints? Get going! If Francis is right about the site being ceremonial there must have been something very special about this place that drew people here.
What seems really clear when you're in the bottom is that you feel enclosed, like you're in a natural bowl or an amphitheatre.
Stewart believes that the landscape is the key to the puzzle.
So if you have a natural amphitheatre it would make it quite an important place to be, but Yes, is it natural or is it the result of having the reservoir there? Exactly, I couldn't quite work out whether that was a natural barrier until I found this map which is early 19th century, it's 1801, first edition map and it shows on here quite clearly the brook coming down the valley.
And turns the right angle And goes down there, so that barrier at the south is natural and would have effectively sealed that in.
We have got an enclosed space.
I think a key part of the archaeology down here has to be to get Henry to do some sampling of the sediments across the valley to try and understand what that environment would have been like, standing water, flowing water, could be crucial in understanding if it is a ceremonial complex.
Back at the mound, the test pits have produced our first tantalising discovery.
Ah Nice little blade innit, yeah, it's the same sort of flint, it's the same colour and texture of flint as all the other stuff.
This is razor sharp, there's no question, they were operating on the top of the mound here.
These flints are more evidence that people were here thousands of years before the stone monuments were built, and for them working flint was a way of life.
To get an idea of the tremendous skill that our prehistoric ancestors had as flint knappers, and to see just how difficult it is to master, Phil's taken time out of the trenches to train Matt up as his apprentice.
0K Matt, the first thing we gotta do is actually get you used to taking flakes off, watch what I do, keep me fingers underneath and strike down.
Right so you're hitting it at quite oblique angle.
Absolutely, think about the shape of the flake, look it's got that Ridge across there.
Ridge that's following it down there.
0K, you're gonna take a flake off around there.
Like that.
Just get used to taking the flake off, that's the first thing.
0op, there we go.
That's a big one, isn't it? Different shape.
Why's the different shape? If you've got the ridge coming across there The ridge is totally the different shape that a ridge is made.
Not as easy as it looks is it? Francis is having troubles of his own, as he's having major doubts about the authenticity at the stone circle.
So he's putting in a fourth trench over one of the stones.
Hello! Already, is that, is that the hole, do you think? The pit? It's looking like it.
It does look quite like it doesn't it.
Thank you, Tracey.
You've made an old man very happy.
Aw Francis It looks pretty circular to me I can't really see what all the fuss is about.
We've established we've got this double stone row going up to the mound, our main access for the site, but why isn't this stone circle on that access? That's where you'd expect it, it's off to one side as if they were, I don't know, drunk when they laid it out.
Have you got anything so far, Tracey? No, we thought we might have had the stone hole in here, but it looks like it's just where the ground's sunk in around the stone but that's actually really good.
Why? That suggests that whenever this stone was put in it's lower down in the sequence than we're at which suggests that it is earlier.
Yeah, and the fact that it's slumped, that indicates that the softer deposits in the hole have shrunk so yeah, it's very good news.
So it could still be a stone circle? Just because that turns out to be an ancient stone doesn't mean it's part of a circle So I'd like to see the results of the geophysics and see if we get a better pattern.
So a lot's riding on geophys to prove that the stones are in a circle.
Thousands of years ago the landscape looked very different to what it does today.
This 3D model shows the landscape setting really well.
If we're going to understand what was going on here, we need to establish what the place looked like in prehistoric times so Henry's been making a 3D model.
Looking at the relationship of the stream, it's so close to the stone circle that if the stream had moved, as they do through time, it would have taken out part of the stone circle.
So what I wonder is whether here, we've got another island, like this one, but more subtle because the actual desedimentation of the lake has masked it so, after doing this bit I want to start crawling around this area and seeing whether there are other channels of wet deposits which might have made this into another island.
Hey, just get on with it, I suppose.
What else is to say?! So Henry starts his core sampling to test his theory that the site was built on islands surrounded by water.
It's inorganic sediment but it's got enough remains to make it brown.
And over in trench one, Faye's found some evidence that supports this theory of water being an important feature in this prehistoric landscape.
So I've got down here the cut for this linear stone Whatever it may be and on that side over there we've got what appears is the bank of what I think, cos of this sediment down here, a river.
So we're right on the edge of the valley in fact? Yeah.
When you say a river you mean one of the streams is coming through.
Yeah exactly and really interestingly then, we've got all these stones which seem to lay in it So they're contemporary of this river.
And the key question, what date? It's a very difficult question.
No, we haven't got dating evidence but with the stratigraphy and the amount of all these layers, we're talking about the prehistoric period.
'With the single stone row deemed prehistoric, another piece of 'the Bronze Age ceremonial landscape falls into place.
'If only the same could be said of Matt's knapping skills.
' You're then bashing away this.
You're also not removing any flint.
Look at that angle there that you're trying to remove.
What sort of an angle is that? What across the top corner? Yep.
100 degrees or so.
You cannot remove flint where the edge of the core is greater than ninety degrees.
I expect to see some improvement tomorrow.
While Matt toils away, Francis has got his eye further down the double stone row leading up to the mound.
This is a key part of the Bronze Age ceremonial landscape but I'm still not entirely convinced of the idea of a processional way.
I need Francis to demonstrate it to me.
Why have you put in this little muddy square? Well, you see that there, Tony That's a stone right we wanted to see if there was another one matching it, so we scooped off the mud with this and you see.
That's hard and that is very soft.
and that's going down, so that there is where they pulled the stone that was originally matching that one out when they built the reservoir.
Do you buy that Raksha, couldn't it just be a hole? For once I believe Francis for the first time cos you can see the stones corresponding all the way up there And it's absolutely slap-bang in line with that stone and the next one and the following one.
So are we gonna say that that's proved? 0h, without a shadow of doubt.
I am actually quite excited.
Well, what does it mean? I mean we've got no pots with paintings of people processing in a serious way up to a hill in the Stone Age - they weren't.
0K, there are records of tribal societies where you have this taking place, often with posts rather than stones.
I want to convince you And the way to convince you because you're a profound sceptic, is to walk along it, and we're going to think Neolithic thoughts, we're going to try to put ourselves back.
Suddenly now we're on the sand ridge Yeah.
0K, and it's getting firmer.
We've done it.
I'm not sure that's proved about the Stone Age but it has proved we've got really good boots! Good, isn't it? 'In spite of myself I'm beginning 'Francis's view that it was a ceremonial landscape, but there's 'still one big part that hasn't been confirmed - the stone circle.
'If it is prehistoric it'll be a first for Time Team, 'a good enough reason to celebrate.
'And another thing I haven't told you is that it's out 200th dig 'so what better way to end the day than with some bubbly!' CHEERING Death to our enemy! Who would have thought, all these years, we'd still be doing it.
I didn't think we would even get going to start with.
Well, this is turning into a really exciting dig, we've got our Neolithic walkway along here, we've got our Mesolithic mound there but over there, have we or have we not got a stone circle, because if we have, it could prove to be the key to the whole site, we'll find out tomorrow.
Cheers! Beginning of day three here at Tottiford Reservoir in Devon and everyone's a bit muted today after last night's celebrations which is a bit of a problem because we've got an enormous amount of work to do trying to establish whether or not what we've got here is a giant prehistoric stone circle.
Francis, yesterday afternoon we put this trench in to try and establish whether this stone had been buried a long time ago or whether it was much more recent.
Have we proved anything yet? Yes, Tony and I am certainly not muted on this.
This really is exciting, we've got the hole that the stone was placed in, right, but more than that we've got the stones that were put in there deliberately to wedge it, to get it at precisely the right angle.
You wouldn't do that if you were just making a field boundary wall, so this has to be a Bronze Age stone.
Now, whether it's part of a row or a circle I don't know.
I've seen some flints from around this stone.
Those flints are definitely prehistoric.
I am also convinced that that stone is prehistoric.
But just because we've got one prehistoric stone doesn't mean it's a prehistoric stone circle, It just means we've got one prehistoric stone.
Exactly, Tony, but look over there, you see that stone there, standing on its own.
Well, geophys discovered a stone hole next door to it, so if we put a trench between those two and they're both real and they're both prehistoric then I think we've got ourselves a stone circle.
If Francis is right then this is a very special site because we haven't dug a prehistoric circle on Time Team before.
Which way you going? No that way.
No that way.
That way.
That's if Ian can point the digger in the right direction.
I have heard they're having a lot of trouble recruiting staff these days and digger drivers are particularly susceptible to replacement.
As well as trench five, we're opening up a further two more trenches on the stone circle.
Faye is digging in trench six.
While Matt is working in trench seven in a very large fallen stone.
Well, that's the biggest stone so far isn't it? It is yeah, this will certainly be the most prominent.
It is yeah, this will certainly be the most prominent.
And that's already four foot long isn't it? Ah, there we go.
That's it, then? That's it, then? Yeah, that's the end.
Henry's continuing to core around the mound with help from Bob.
They're hoping to prove that the site was made up of sandy islands surrounded by water, which is all part of Francis's idea of a ritual landscape.
I've started coring the other side, we're seeing the same materials on the island See I'm calling it an island now! It's looking more and more like one.
See I'm calling it an island now! It's looking more and more like one.
You really get an Idea of what's happenIng then.
The interesting thing will be looking that way over to the stone circle over there to see if that's something of an island, same as this one.
And we're not only looking on the outside of the stone circle, but also in the middle to see what went on here.
It's quite weird though, isn't it? Because you literally come out of this stone circle area, it's very boggy, and then as you come on to this area it's actually quite dry.
Yeah, it's just like the double stone row, you've got the same thing.
It's quite dry between the stones, isn't it? So I think that that obviously was important.
you know, dry underfoot.
Well, just like it is to us.
Raksha's opened up trench eight, and is starting to find more evidence that the stones were built on an island.
Back in trench five the digging frenzy comes to a standstill as Phil is beginning to unearth something.
Yeah, you can see there's definitely somethingcoming round there.
And it does have these big stones in it.
That don't necessarily look natural.
So we're Yeah, we'll have a look at that.
It's mid morning and this is one of those moments where everything on Time seems to kick off at once.
Matt, what have you got coming out of this trench? I've been clearing up this stone and it's much bigger than we expected.
It looks like it's a good five foot long, standing stone that's just fallen over.
that's just fallen over.
You think it's prehistoric? that's just fallen over.
You think it's prehistoric? Yeah, without question.
And it's not only that, over here we've got Phil Ian, could you kill the digger for a minute.
Phil, is that something there? Phil, is that something there? That is another stone hole, Tony.
Another prehistoric stone.
Another part of the stone circle absolutely equidistant between that stone there and where Matt is.
Come over with me cos we've had some news from Raksha's trench as well.
We're doing sieving here as you can see, what's that for Phil? That's to try and get all the flints, Raksha's had quite a lot of flint out of her trench and we want to make sure that we get every piece of flint.
And what you got now, Raksha? We've got a whole heap of flinty goodness in this trench and I think I don't know whether that's a blade or an arrowhead.
No, it's not an arrowhead I'm afraid.
It's a rather nice broken flake but it's the same material, the Mesolithic material that we're getting off the mound.
What do you think all this tells us Francis? Well, it tells us that we've actually got two phases on this site.
You've got this earlier Neolithic, Mesolithic which you've got on the mound and we've now got down here, completely unexpectedly.
And then there is a later Bronze Age phase which goes with the rougher looking yellow flint, and that is contemporary with the stone circle and the stone row.
It's extraordinary how once again we're finding so much stuff so late in the dig and I would remind you that we only have just over half a day left.
Ah! Geophys has had to tackle extraordinary amounts of mud to get the radar results from the stone circle.
They've been working around the clock but they think they've finally cracked it.
This is where Phil's been working and he was talking about finding the stones in that quadrant.
Look at these results that Jimmy's now presented.
0ne, two, three and a fourth.
A perfect arc and when you drop that arc into the bigger picture, it forms that complete stone circle.
That is the final quadrant.
I don't think it can be clearer than that.
I'm convinced John, I'm absolutely convinced.
So we're now certain that we have a prehistoric stone circle, which is a first for Time Team.
But we still don't know how it relates to the rest of the site and what exactly it was used for.
Francis, yesterday afternoon you said that if those stones turned out to be a prehistoric stone circle then that could be key to our understanding of the site, and yet even though we're digging over there you keep being drawn back to here.
you keep being drawn back to here.
Well, I do because I think that's why the stone circle is where it is.
This mound was always the centre of this landscape.
That double stone row leads directly to it, it's linked to it, but the stone circle, you see, is joined in a different way.
It's joined as if there were some, some gravity.
It's attracted to this mound, and that's why I'm so fascinated by the east/west boundary at the far end of the site there because if that is contemporary with all of this, then that's the edge of this landscape.
Bob it's hard for us to understand that there was a time when we'd got this processional way, we'd got the mound, a stone circle, a boundary.
Why? It's intriguing, isn't it? 0ne of the things that fascinates me is this contrast, or difference between the wetter areas and the dryer areas which we have on the mound and it's perhaps important that the stone row and the alignment leads from wetter ground onto dry ground.
And perhaps the ritual itself involved some kind of movement from wet to dry and that was a significant element within the ritual itself.
within the ritual itself.
It's so tantalising.
It's something that we'll never really be able to describe in any meaningful way.
in any meaningful way.
It's all a great theory, but do the dates hold together with Francis's idea of a ritual landscape? Phil may just have found firm evidence in trench five which dates the stone circle to the Bronze Age.
Philyou look rather like an Australian sheep shearer holding sheep droppings.
(LAUGHS) Well! I'm over the moon, Tony.
That is our prehistoric pot.
You're joking? No, I'm not.
Those tiny little pellets? Those tiny little pellets? Absolutely, absolutely.
Those tiny little pellets? Absolutely, absolutely.
How do you know that? Well, I've had a word with Carl, our local pottery expert, and he's happy that that is Bronze Age pot.
and he's happy that that is Bronze Age pot.
Where was it found? It came from about 18 inches away from that stone.
This trench is lovely and clean now, what will we do with it? This trench is lovely and clean now, what will we do with it? We're going to make it longer actually because we're beginning to build up a picture of the arrangement, stone arrangement on this side of the circle and so far we've got an additional stone hole there, we've got a stone there and we want to get the third one in the arc and it's probably going to be underneath that digger.
Fantastic! We're finally getting close to linking our prehistoric monuments together.
Both the double stone row and the stone circle are from the Bronze Age.
While the mound dates much earlier, from the Mesolithic when people were working flints.
Matt's coming to the end of his knapping, but would his work be good enough to fit in with our ancient ancestors who lived here? How's it going? Not bad actually, I think I'm getting the hang of it.
Not bad actually, I think I'm getting the hang of it.
Think about one that you might want to use for a knife.
Um, probably go for something that's you know, knife-shaped as it were so something like, like that I suppose.
So why do you pick that one? Well, it's good and straight and it's got these razor sharp edges.
So, you've got your knives, let's think about something else, think about scrapers.
something else, think about scrapers.
Right, maybe something like that.
The thing that you've got to select for a scraper, is one that's got a dipping end to it and that one is perfect for that, it's got this dipping end.
You could actually butcher your game, you can actually process your hides.
And those two tools are the basic two for all the flint technologies for thousands of years.
Cutting and scraping and with those skills you could integrate with our Mesolithic people living on the mound over there.
You could survive with these skills.
The results are in from the coring samples and Henry reckons he's figured out what the landscape looked like during the prehistoric.
Henry, this is the sum total of the work that you've been doing over the last few days? This is the survey, the borehole work and everything else.
We've put the coring in across here, just trying to understand the landscape and it's environment.
What we have are two streams from Francis's Bronze Age ceremonial landscape running through the valley either side of the central mound and an island on which the stone circle was built.
As yet we don't know how the stone circle links to the mound, but Raksha may just have found the answer in her trench.
Raksha, what's this depression here that you've been excavating? This depression here believe it or not is a post hole we found just after lunch.
A post hole? For something wood? Yes, it's for a wooden post.
How do you know that was for a wooden post and not for a stone? Well, if you look in Tracey's trench she has a standing stone in it and there's actually a cut around it, so it would have gone in much deeper.
And to put all the packing round which you don't need for a post hole.
Any idea of date? Well, funny you should say that, I actually have a bag of flint and I'd love Francis to have a look at them cos I would love to know what date they are.
We're in the middle of a Bronze Age stone circle Hmm.
We're in the middle of a Bronze Age stone circle Yeah.
We've got a post hole and these flints are all Mesolithic.
So how long before the Bronze Age circle was here would that post have been here? About 4,000 years.
Wow, and that's the same sort of date as the mound up there? Wow, and that's the same sort of date as the mound up there? Yeah.
That's extraordinary, so 4,000 years after that post was put in, all these stones were erected.
So you were right yesterday afternoon when you said if we could crack this circle then we would understand more about the logic of this site.
You've got something that's Mesolithic here and that's Mesolithic, isn't it, on that mound? And then later you've got the walkway coming up to it.
And then you've got the Bronze Age circle.
Yes, so this site began when people were still hunter/gatherers, then they became farmers and then it was an age of metal.
Phew, at last! Phew, at last! (THEY LAUGH) That's a relief, isn't it? That's a relief, isn't it? I know.
This is an incredible find.
We've uncovered some sort of Mesolithic timber structure, as old as the flint work on the mound, so we're now able to link all the features together in our ceremonial site.
Now we can see that we've got a complete prehistoric landscape but every piece of archaeology we've exposed, asks the same question, who were these people and why did they erect it? Is there anything that we can really say about that? Well, I think the answer to that is they were just like us.
I mean this is a very special place.
We're in a sort of natural amphitheatre and all their religious monuments, their constructions, are all intimately related to a very small scale landscape.
It's a natural amphitheatre, isn't it? Then within it you've got these small rises and fall in the landscape, and they relate directly to the actual monuments that were constructed on them.
You know, the ceremonial monuments.
And the ceremonies that were going on here happened over an incredibly long time - 3,000 or 4,000 years.
So it's all about people's religion developing out of the landscape and I feel a strong sense that this is a sacred place.
Mick you never get that excited about prehistoric sites, do you? No, I'm a pretty cold blooded character about the spirituality and religion and all that, but what convinced me was seeing it from the air because not only is this site special in this valley, but this valley is in the top of a great massive sort of mountain piece of landscape of Dartmoor, hidden away, you wouldn't be able to see it from below.
You wouldn't have been able to see it until you got really near to it, so it looks to me like a really sort of special place so, I think I'll probably buy into it on this occasion.
So yesterday he was Richard Dawkins, today he's the Archbishop of Canterbury.
today he's the Archbishop of Canterbury.
(THEY LAUGH) The entire ceremonial site was made up of a central mound with a timber structure next to it, dating from the Mesolithic period 8,000 years ago.
Later, about 4,000 years ago, during the Bronze Age, a double stone row was built, acting as a processional way leading up to the mound.
Around the same time, the stone circle was built.
A single stone row could have acted as an east/west field boundary to the entire site.
It's been a pretty eventful three days, hasn't it? It certainly has.
What is it that you've enjoyed most? I think it's seeing the prehistory of this valley coming to life again.
And people don't excavate stone circles on Dartmoor very often! They certainly don't.
I think the last one was about 130 years ago.
So how important do you think this dig is? I think it's been tremendously important for Dartmoor but I think it's been important nationally too.
but I think it's been important nationally too.
Are you glad we came? Delighted, thank you very much, I think we're going to have to rewrite some of Dartmoor's archaeology books, because of you.