Federation of Old Cornwall Societies

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Probus Old Cornwall Society







Founded: 1946


Colours: Blue & White





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 jon.asummers@btinternet.com


Vice Chair: Barrie Anthony


Secretary: Vince van Kempen-Wilson, email vince.vkw@gmail.com


Treasurer: Mike Cluett


Recorder: Laura van Kempen-Wilson


Librarian: Roger Gluyas


Speaker Secretary: Alan Blake





Programme 2019-20