An archaeological investigation at the site of Plymouth’s first Royal Navy supply yard has uncovered evidence of pottery, glassware and other rare items from the mid-17th century.
Experts from the University of Plymouth and Plymouth Archaeology Society have spent the past week carrying out excavations at Commercial Wharf to the south of the Barbican.
The area was used for nearly 200 years to supply the Royal Navy with bread, biscuits and beef until those operations moved to Royal William Yard in the 19th century.
However, investigations have found several items dating from before the quay wall of the victualling yard was built in the 1660s.
The star find so far is one half of a glass bead, believed to have been made on the island of Murano in Venice lagoon. Also known as a Chevron or Rosetta bead, complete 17th century examples can be found in museums around the world such as the Corning Museum of Glass in New York.
Volunteers working on the site have also found Mediterranean and Iberian pottery, including fragments of Pisan-type marbled ware and Montelupo ware from Florence.
They also have part of a costrel of Portuguese coarseware from Aveiro and now have three fragments of Chinese blue-and-white Ming porcelain, which were used by those in high society at the time.
Other finds indicate aspects of daily life in the town, including clay pipes, butchered animal bones, oysters, cockles and a fish vertebrae, probably from a cod.
These have been added to discoveries that led to the current investigation, including pottery from the UK and Europe as well as tableware, jars, and a candlestick.
The project was launched after conservation work on the quay wall at Commercial Wharf, currently being undertaken by JNE Construction Ltd on behalf of Plymouth City Council, revealed important 17th century material.