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PROBUS – TOWN OR VILLAGE? IT’S A QUESTION OF ARCHAEOLOGY!
Members of the Probus Historic Cornwall Society were delighted to welcome Peter Herring from the Cornwall Archaeological Unit (CAU) to talk about its work, with particular emphasis on Probus.
So, how do you ‘do’ archaeology? Well first, you have to find your site! Most of the sites dealt with by the CAU are a reaction to finds made during development, eg the Probus by pass and the Park and Ride site. Others are as a result of projects to look for sites using aerial photography. The presence of hill forts can be indicated by increased crop growth on the deeper soil of ditches, as at Carvossa, Probus. During drought, the shapes of long-vanished buildings and barrows, such as those around Probus, show clearly from the air. Peter also showed us an example of the use of LIDAR. Fast laser pulses, combined with other data, generate precise 3D information. He first showed us the ordinary aerial photograph, then the LIDAR image.
Sites are also identified by comparing old maps with new. Members were shown examples of areas within Probus Parish where settlements had existed but no longer remain.
When you have found your site, you can get your boots on the ground and complete your surface and subsurface surveys, now know to all as a result of TV’s ‘Timeteam’ as ‘geophys’ (geophysical).
Archaeology leads to knowledge not only of buildings in the past but also people and their way of life. Peter showed us parts of the wonderfully detailed 1748 map of Cornwall by Tomas Martyn. Hamlets, farmsteads and manor houses are indicated by stylised drawings, churches have either steeples or towers and roads are shown as being either enclosed or open at the sides. Probus was very unusual as it had a large number of farmsteads and manor houses, and very few hamlets within its Parish, indicating a prosperous area. Modern aerial views of Probus show that it still lies in a more rural setting than most inhabited areas of Cornwall enjoy.
The Martyn map also shows the street patterns of the towns and villages. Most places in Cornwall with similar central areas and facilities to Probus were towns, so, is Probus a town or a village? Probus has an area called The Square; it used to have a regular market and held an annual Hurling contest. These point to it being, or having been, a town! What do you think?
Chairman: Jon Sommers, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice Chair: Barrie Anthony
Secretary: Vince van Kempen-Wilson, email email@example.com
Treasurer: Mike Cluett
Recorder: Laura van Kempen-Wilson
Librarian: Roger Gluyas
Speaker Secretary: Alan Blake
Members of the Probus Historic Cornwall Society were most grateful to Greg Stanton, a village resident, for standing in at short notice as Speaker to our meeting on 11th November. Our advertised talk was to have been about Daphne du Maurier but the speaker for that subject was unwell and unable to attend. However, as our meeting took place on Armistice Day, Greg thought that a talk on Remembrance would be fitting; indeed it was.
Greg started his talk by telling how he and his wife, Joy, had discovered The Rumps whilst sailing to Padstow one year. The Rumps are the rocks which look like a dragon, with the water breaking over its head. They decided that they would like to view it from the land so walked from Polzeath to Port Quin, via Pentire Point, where they noticed a bench and poppies. This was the spot where Laurence Binyon wrote his poem ‘To the Fallen’, the fourth verse of which is read every Remembrance Sunday. Binyon wrote the poem after the Battle of Mons on 23rd August 1914.
Mons was one of the places where Greg’s grandfather had seen action as a cavalry lancer during WW1. Grandfather lived with Greg and his family and the 2 were very close. They visited Mons together in the early 50’s, where Grandfather’s cavalry unit had charged a German position and had been scythed down by crossfire from 2 or 3 machine guns. His horse was killed but Grandfather, injured, survived. This was the last time cavalry charged. After he recovered, Grandfather returned to active service and joined the Machine Gun Corps. He was eventually captured and became a Prisoner of War, returning home 6 months after the war had ended. He found a job at the Co-op, looking after the delivery horses.
On Remembrance Sunday Grandfather would take his suit out of the mothballed wardrobe and go to the Cenotaph and meet his friends. One of Grandfather’s friends was sent to the Western Front when WW1 started. He had a tattoo of the head and neck of a dragon, the remainder of the beast being unfinished due to his swift departure.