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Devon treasure hunter locates Bronze Age settlement using Google Earth
A Devon treasure hunter has stunned professional archaeologists by locating a Bronze Age settlement using Google Earth.
Howard Jones shunned the usual methods of finding ancient communities and relied on the internet instead.
He trawled satellite images for the sort of terrain that would have offered food, water and shelter for a prehistoric settlement.
Howard used Google's overheard mapping site to zoom in on fields and farmland before pinpointing a spot in the South Hams.
The former Royal Marine then sought permission from the local landowner before heading down there to scour for remains.
He soon unearthed old flint tools, pottery shards and scraps of metal thought to date back 5,000 years.
Howard called in Devon County archaeologist Bill Horner who carried out a geophysical survey using ground-penetrating radar equipment .
The two men found two large buried structures that they believe are farm buildings dating back to the bronze or iron age.
Howard, a commercial diver from Plymstock, said: "Night after night I looked at Google Earth asking myself the question 'if I was alive 3,000 years ago where would I live'.
"I would need food, water, shelter, close to Dartmoor for minerals, close to a river to access the sea and trade routes .
"After a few weeks I put an 'X marks the spot' on the map - that was where I would live."
Not knowing who the site belonged to, Howard was initially unable to test his theory until he tumbled across the landowner by chance.
He said: "At kids rugby training one night I remembered that one of the other coaches was a farmer and I asked him if I could field walk and detect on his land.
"As I didn't know where his farm was, I arranged for my family and I to meet him and he gave us a tour of his fields.
"It was then I found out that my 'X marks the spot' was on his land - it was unbelievable."
Howard has previously searched for ancient artefacts underwater and in 2010 he was involved in the discovery of the 300-year-old Dutch merchant vessel the Aagtekerke off the Devon coast.
But after deciding to switch his search inland because of this year's storms he hopes his latest find will prove his best yet.
Mr Horner has arranged for a series of trench digs, which could take place as early as February next year.
He says Howard's web-inspired find could offer new insights into Bronze Age trading outposts.
Mr Horner said: "The survey shows two or three probable farmsteads which look to be late prehistoric, bronze age to iron age.
"Other parts of the underlying settlement possibly continue to the Romano-British period, around 1,500-2,000 years ago.
"The images also show tracks and enclosures, as well as a number of pits, which alongside Howard's findings, looks like evidence of metal works."
"We know that Devon's mineral resources were being traded along the coast and along the channel in prehistoric times.
"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."