Can you imagine finding an ancient treasure map? One where “X marks the spot,” leading you to riches beyond belief? Well, one man lucked upon such a map, except he didn’t find it at an antique map shop, or even a flea market. He just Googled it. Howard Jones used Google Maps to discover an ancient Bronze Age settlement in Devon County, England.
Howard thought to himself, “if I were living in ancient times, what would I need?” The list was pretty straightforward. “I would need food, water, shelter, close to Dartmoor [nearby mining town] for minerals, close to a river to access the sea and trade routes,” Howard explains. “After a few weeks I put an ‘X marks the spot’ on the map—that was where I would live.”
At that point, all Howard had was an X on a map, and if it weren’t for a stroke of luck, he never would have gained access to the land. As it happened, Howard coached a kids’ rugby team on the side. One of the other coaches in the league was a farmer in the area. While touring one of the fields with the farmer, Howard realized the X on his map was directly underfoot.
Howard asked the farmer if he could search the field for treasure. The farmer agreed, and to Howard’s astonishment, he got lucky again. With the help of his metal detector, he soon discovered fragments of pottery, flint tools, and metal scraps. Sensing the site’s importance, the lucky treasure hunter called Devon County archaeologist Bill Horner to aid him in his search. The men used radar to scan underground. They discovered two buildings that are likely old farm structures. All of the finds are believed to be about 5,000 years old, and date back to the Bronze Age. Archaeological digs are scheduled for early next year.
These finds have big implications for the region’s human history. Horner released a statement on the importance of the find. “While Dartmoor is famous for preserved historic sites, the same is not true of coastal areas. So this could be the missing link between those moorland sites and the evidence we have of trading,” Horner stated.
When people think of treasure hunting, they often think of faded maps. But that’s not always the case. For those of us who are really clever, new technologies are making it easier for us to connect with our past.
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