Bronze Age shipwreck found off Devon coast

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One of the world's oldest shipwrecks has been discovered off the coast of Devon (England) after lying on the seabed for almost 3,000 years. The trading vessel was carrying an extremely valuable cargo of tin and hundreds of copper ingots from the Continent when it sank. Experts say the 'incredibly exciting' discovery provides new evidence about the extent and sophistication of Britain's links with Europe in the Bronze Age as well as the remarkable seafaring abilities of the people during the period.

Archaeologists have described the vessel, which is thought to date back to around 900 BCE, as being a 'bulk carrier' of its age. The copper and tin would have been used for making bronze. Archaeologists believe the copper - and possibly the tin - was being imported into Britain and originated in a number of different countries throughout Europe, rather than from a single source, demonstrating the existence of a complex network of trade routes across the Continent.

Academics at the University of Oxford are carrying out further analysis of the cargo in order to establish its exact origins. However, it is thought the copper would have come from the Iberian peninsular, Alpine Europe, especially modern day Switzerland, and possibly other locations in France, such as the Massif Central, and even as far as Austria. It is first time tin ingots from this period have ever been found in Britain, a discovery which may support theories that the metal was being mined in the south west at this time. If the tin was not produced in Britain, it is likely it would have also come from the Iberian peninsular or from eastern Germany.

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