Archaeology work at Trerice

Student and volunteer work together to survey the Trerice topography

2017 was a busy year for archaeology at Trerice with the first digs of the Trerice Archaeological Research Group (TARG) taking place. After 5 initial test pits during the festival of archaeology (four of which were deemed successful) a larger week long dig took place in mid-September.

What makes the tunnel so exciting to everyone at Trerice is how many questions it raises now: what was it used for? How old is it? What does this tell us about the Trerice worked as a farm and property?

The tunnel was discovered by TARG towards the end of the big mill dig. Up until this point all that had been found on the site was the foundations of a poured, concrete building with a packed earth floor. The team found a crack in slabs of stone nearby and, looking through it, saw water reflected back up. The slabs were lifted by the garden team to reveal a hole filled with standing water and a tunnel heading towards the barn.

Lifting the lid on a hidden tunnel
Lifting slabs covering the tunnel at Trerice
Lifting the lid on a hidden tunnel

The tunnel is 43 metres long and 6 foot tall, it starts off as masonry but soon changes to cut rock – it wouldn’t have been a quick or easy job and, early attempts to date the tunnel suggest it is hand cut. After 43 metres the tunnel meets a blockage where it has been filled in, we don’t know how far on it continues or where it goes to.

In late Autumn Camborne School of Mines approached TARG to see if they could collaborate and conduct a geophysical survey of the tunnel as part of their coursework. This is ongoing work that will use equipment developed by the mining industry to locate the course of the tunnel and give us more understanding of its purpose and if it was mining related.

" I never thought I would have had this opportunity. I’ve always dreamed of doing something like this."
- Janet

The TARG group is made up of approximately 20 Trerice volunteers, all of whom have come into archaeology through volunteering. The chance to take part in archaeological work was jumped at by many volunteers. Janet has followed the Camborne School of Mines work with particular interest.

What’s next for the tunnel is yet to be decided; more surveying will take place through the early months of 2018 as Camborne School of Mines continue to investigate further. 2018 will also see the return of the 'Trerice: the archaeology of a medieval manor farm' walking tours with TARG leader Gary on 27 April, 25 May, 29 June and 28 September. The TARG team will be digging again in September, hoping to further develop their understanding of the Trerice archaeology and history of the manor.