If the latest discovery on Dartmoor is potentially as significant as the Whitehorse Hill cist, it’s no wonder archaeologists are so excited about it.

The items found in the stone burial chamber near Chagford provided some fascinating insights into early Bronze Age life on Dartmoor. Archaeologists learned of the materials and trade routes used by the local population, the tools and techniques at their disposal, and even the kind of jewellery and body piercings people used to express their status and identity.

None of this had been expected when the cist – discovered in the 1990s – was finally excavated in 2011. From its external appearance, the contents had apparently all been lost. The team were expecting to analyse buried pollen, insects and charcoal in the peat to establish details of the surrounding landscape when the chamber was created.

Then the excavators realised that one of the sidestones had moved out of position, protecting and preserving the wealth of prehistoric items that had lain buried behind it for around 5,000 years.

The cist contained cremated remains thought to be those of a young girl, wrapped in a bearskin which was fastened with a copper alloy pin. There were also more than 200 necklace beads made of fired clay, shale, amber and tin – the amber could have come from as far away as the Baltic and been traded via Wessex. There were also finely crafted wooden studs that may have been worn as labrettes in the ears and/or lips, a bracelet woven from cow hair ornamented with tin studs, fragments of textiles and leather, and a basketry container.

Midweek Herald: An actress representing the young girl whose remains and personal items were found in the

To illustrate the significance of these discoveries and the information they conveyed to archaeologists, the Dartmoor National Park Authority made a video recreating the possible Bronze Age lifestyle of the young woman whose remains the cist contained, with an actress wearing replicas of the jewellery that was found with her cremated bones. The video has been viewed more than 70,000 times on YouTube.

Of course, it’s too early to say whether the latest cist will yield such an exciting range of prehistoric relics. That will gradually be revealed during the excavation process.

But it does have good potential, as the peat around it is waterlogged, meaning any clothing or artefacts inside could be very well preserved.

Back in 2011 the results of the Whitehorse Hill excavation were seen as a thrilling indication of what other relics might still await discovery on Dartmoor. The latest cist may not be such an important historical treasure trove, but it is also possible that new information about lives lived thousands of years ago may finally come to light.

Read more about the new discovery here.