Have a family of rabbits rewritten the history of Britain’s most iconic tourist attraction?
Posted on Feb 03, 2014
It’s known the world over for its breath-taking scenery, famous sign post and as the starting place for countless treks the length of Britain, including the 2012 Olympic torch relay. But it’s what lies beneath the soil of Land’s End that has been getting archaeologists excited since last year, when a family of burrowing rabbits unearthed stunning evidence of over 5000 years of human activity on the site.
Land’s End is the most westerly point of England, and has been attracting tourists for hundreds of years. It has long been connected in Cornish folklore to the stories of the lost land of Lyonnese and with tales of King Arthur, but a recent discovery has shed light on some of the earliest humans to call the site home, but it’s not a team of archaeologists who’ve dug them up, it’s a friendly family of rabbits.
Land’s End staff member Eddie Williams, had affectionately adopted a family of wild rabbits who had created a network of burrows near the site’s Greeb Farm attraction, but he soon noticed it wasn’t just soil being unearthed by the rabbits, but a series of curious flint objects which he decided to collect.
Archaeologists from Big Heritage were invited to the site to investigate further, and discovered that Eddie’s finds were a collection of flint scrapers and arrowheads dating back at least 5000 years. This prompted Land’s End to commission a thorough archaeological investigation of their land, and the results were astonishing. Within ten minutes’ walk of the iconic sign-post, archaeologists revealed an iron-age hill fort, a Bronze Age barrow cemetery, a Neolithic passage grave and a series of iron-age field-systems; all evidence of humans being attracted to Land’s End for thousands of years.
Dean Paton from Big Heritage said: “It’s amazing how a family of rabbits have set in motion an incredible journey of discovery. Within the immediate vicinity of Land’s End, we were able to see a visible time-line of Britain, stretching deep into prehistory. As a site famous for having the ‘first and last house’ and a ‘first and last inn’ – we’ve been able to add the first and last hillfort and cemetery! Whilst the landscape will have changed considerably over time, it’s likely that the stunning natural beauty of the site would have always been significant to humans.”
Alice Reynolds, Marketing Manager at Land’s End said: “Thousands of people visit Land’s End each year to witness our amazing views and the rare natural habitats we preserve. We’re so excited to add heritage to this list, and are putting plans in place to ensure we can help to preserve the archaeology of our site, but also share it with both tourists and local communities.”
Big Heritage are now working closely with Land’s End to create a series of attractions, new interpretation boards and school activities – including an ‘archaeobunnies’ trail to inspire budding young archaeologists to discover the past in much the same way as the real-life archaeo-bunnies at Land’s End.