A cobbled floor from 200 years ago has been uncovered beneath an ancient seat in Cornwall

By Culture24 Reporter | 28 April 2016

Archaeologists have found the floor and central wall of a collapsed ancient deer house in Cornwall

A photo of archaeologists working on a countryside stone seat at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall
Working in all weathers, a team of archaeologists have revealed the floor of a deer house in Cornwall. This picture shows the remains of a wall running along the axis of the building which would have supported a timber manger© James Gossip, Cornwall Archaeological Unit
Archaeologists have described uncovering a “beautiful” cobbled floor, made of slender pebbles laid on their edges alongside an intricate design of white pebbles, at a collapsed county seat from more than 200 years ago in a Cornwall Deer Park.

A photo of archaeologists working on a countryside stone seat at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall
The floor was in excellent condition with an intricate design picked out by white pebbles© James Gossip, Cornwall Archaeological Unit
Known as the Rock Seat on old maps, the Stone Seat is thought to have been built with a slate roof during the late 18th or early 19th century. Volunteers worked diligently to excavate historic structures around it ahead of urgent Natural England repairs at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park.

A photo of archaeologists working on a countryside stone seat at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall
The cobbled floor of the seat as it began to reveal itself© James Gossip, Cornwall Archaeological Unit
“The Upper Deer House, on the opposite side of Grotton Plantation, was a long, linear structure, defined by two crumbling gable walls and a few upright granite posts,” says James Gossip, of the Cornwall Archaeological Unit.

A photo of archaeologists working on a countryside stone seat at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall
The emerging cobbled floor© James Gossip, Cornwall Archaeological Unit
“Although the building had partially collapsed and its original form is uncertain - there are no known surviving photos - the team managed to clear away rubble and soil to reveal the original plan of the building along with a rear ledge which would have supported a wooden seat.

A photo of archaeologists working on a countryside stone seat at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall
The Upper Deer House, nearing completion of the clearance© James Gossip, Cornwall Archaeological Unit
“Originally the open-sided building would have had an upper floor, or hayloft, fed from a cart through openings at either end.

A photo of archaeologists working on a countryside stone seat at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall
The cobbled floor and kerb of the seat after five days of clearance work© James Gossip, Cornwall Archaeological Unit
“There was evidence that a slate roof had been present, with cast iron guttering shedding water into a drainage gully at the eastern end of the building.”

A photo of archaeologists working on a countryside stone seat at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall
The beginning of work at the seat© James Gossip, Cornwall Archaeological Unit
Having cleared away vegetation, the team discovered the floor and a central wall running along the axis of the building, used to support a timber feeder or manger for deer during the winter.

A photo of archaeologists working on a countryside stone seat at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall
The previous look of the seat© James Gossip, Cornwall Archaeological Unit
Although these houses are common at deer parks in the north of England, Gossip says they remain “extremely rare” in the south-west. “The remains of the building will be consolidated in order to preserve this rare structure. The building will soon be made safe and a seat installed to allow visitors to rest there and enjoy the view once again.”

A photo of archaeologists working on a countryside stone seat at Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in Cornwall
© James Gossip, Cornwall Archaeological Unit
Visitors once enjoyed a southern vista across the Deer Park and out to sea from the seat. A companion building, the Lower Deer House, built to a similar plan but without a cobbled floor, is currently being repaired.


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Three places where you can see archaeology in Cornwall

National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth
Featuring nationally and internationally historically significant artefacts, the exhibition explores what is behind the popular myth of the bloodthirsty raiders, what it meant to become a Viking and shows how their mastery of maritime technology was the secret to their success. Until February 22 2017.

Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro
Discover Cornwall’s unique culture from the ancient past to the present day along with art and artefacts from around the world. Explore magnificent minerals, archaeology and natural history, along with an impressive collection of Newlyn School paintings, old masters and decorative art.

Bodmin Town Museum
Interesting local history museum using photographs, text and artefacts in displays showing rocks and minerals, WWI and WWII showcases, model forge, agricultural implements, a Cornish kitchen (Victorian), Bardic items, law and order, wildlife, railways, local worthies, medieval church exhibits, Victoriana and fire service including 1770 fire engine.
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What beautiful work! Someone once put a lot of hard hours into laying that floor; makes me consider just how I want to lay out the path in my backyard that I'm redoing right now. ^_^
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