An Iron Age hearth and evidence of a Bronze Age settlement have been uncovered in Porthleven by builders working on a new housing development.

Archaeologists have been working alongside the contractors developing land off Shrubberies Hill and have been excited by the find.

Community archaeologist Richard Mikulski said of the Iron Age hearth: “It’s quite a big deal. It’s the first ever find in Cornwall and there’s only one other example that we know of that’s sort of similar found in the south west, if not the country, found at Glastonbury at the end of the 19th century.

“What’s been found at Porthleven is really exciting. It seems to be a late Iron Age industrial phase that’s gone on, or settlement.”

There is evidence of metalworking and iron, which indicates it is from the Iron Age, as prior to that softer metals such as bronze would have been used as they are easier to heat and work with at lower temperatures.

Mr Mikulski, who is based with the Cornwall archaeological unit at Cornwall Council, said it is not just a simple hearth but “quite complex”, suggesting a more industrial use.

It is stone lined, with what seems to be a flue, indicating a controlled fire. Baked clay or soil has indentations that are either decorative, or more likely are impressions of the pots that would have been fired there. They are circular with a “spout”, as there would be on an upside down jug.

There are at least five or six of these in a pattern within the baked soil in the stone lining.

Accompanying this find were examples of Romano-British pottery.

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Mr Mikulski said it was likely this site in Porthleven was chosen for the work due to its strong winds, which would have fanned the flames in the hearth.

A bit further down the site is evidence of a Bronze Age settlement with round houses.

Worked stones suggesting the crushing of food and a rotary quern indicates settlers would have been processing wheat into flour to make bread.

Mr Mikulski said that while there had been a pause in work to record the findings, the discoveries had not affected the development.

He added: “The client has worked with us quite closely to ensure the archaeology is dealt with as best we can. We have had to do a lot more work than we originally anticipated, in terms of recording things!”

Mr Mikulski, together with archaeologists Ryan Smith and Andy Jones, who have been based at the site, showed pupils from Porthleven Primary School around last Friday to see the discoveries.