Archaeology and Landscape: Palaeolithic

Palaeolithic Britain

The “Ice Age” refers to the climate of the last 2.6 million years, known geologically as the Quaternary Period, when large parts of north-west Europe were repeatedly covered by glaciers. During these “glacial” periods, south of the ice, there were swift-flowing, cold rivers and bare tundra. The sparse vegetation fed mammals such as mammoths and woolly rhinos.  The Ice Age, however, was not always cold.  Glacials were interrupted by briefer warm episodes (“interglacials”) when conditions were favourable for a wide variety of animals and plants, as they are today.

The glacial periods of the Quaternary became more severe in the last million years, and glaciers started to form in upland Britain.  Ice sheets gradually built up over much of northern and western Britain before retreating more quickly at the end of each glacial period. The trapping of water in the ice sheets caused sea level to fall: at the height of the last glacial epoch around 20,000 years ago, sea levels were around 130m lower than today.

Conversely, in interglacial times, ice was restricted to mountains and the ice sheets of Antarctica and Greenland. During the last interglacial, around 125,000 years ago, the sea level was several metres higher than today. Despite these fluctuations, Britain has been an island for very little of the last 500,000 years. For the majority of this time, animals and humans would have been able to walk from Europe into southern England as the ice receded, then retreat again as the climate cooled.

Huge climatic shifts during this period meant that the area now called Worcestershire was at times entirely covered by an ice sheet several hundred metres thick, with only the tops of the Malvern Hills visible. At other times, the climate was similar to or warmer than today, even allowing hippopotamus to bathe in the River Severn around 125,000 years ago. 

Worcestershire Landscapes

In Worcestershire, our knowledge of the Ice Age comes from both geological and archaeological studies of preserved Ice Age deposits and the plant remains, animal fossils and human artefacts they contain. The county benefits not only from the existence of two extant river systems, whose terrace sequences are well-preserved and have demonstrated the presence of both artefacts and environmental remains, but also the remnants of pre-Anglian river systems. These deposits have the potential to contain environmental evidence, and possibly artefacts, from key periods in Palaeolithic Britain. Even where they do not contain artefacts, Pleistocene palaeoenvironmental deposits can help to build local and regional deposit models.   

Our area is internationally famous for staircase-like flights of river terraces. Studies on these phenomena were led, in the first half of the 20th century, by Mabel Tomlinson on the Avon and Leonard Wills FRS on the Severn. Over the last half million years the land surface has progressively uplifted. As a consequence, the Severn, the Avon and their tributaries have incised (eroded into) underlying bedrock at a rate of around 15 cm per 1000 years. The river floodplains were often several kilometres wide in the past, much broader than today. At each Stage, a flat-topped pile of river sediment accumulated on the valley floor. With each incision, previous river sediment is eroded, with remnants (terraces) left locally on the valley side. The highest terraces are the oldest, whilst the youngest are close to the level of the modern floodplain.

The terrace deposits are characteristically poor in fine sediment, unlike the muddy deposits that dominate modern floodplains. Hence, they have been extensively extracted for sand and gravel. These braided rivers typify the outwash downstream of glaciers. A link to cold climate is specifically demonstrable where suitable fossils occur in local lenses of fine sediment or in the rare case of a mammoth tusk.  Locally however, and particularly near the base of terrace deposits, more varied sediments including fine-grained deposits of abandoned channels or swamps are found containing a more diverse range of animal remains and fossil pollen indicating temperate, often fully interglacial conditions.

Perhaps the most widespread indicator of former periglacial conditions in the county is the presence of solifluction deposits, created by the downward movement of soil and surface layers on slopes. Strictly speaking, most of this process is actually gelifluction, which reflects the fact that permafrost or ground ice was present. This means that in summer, any surface water was not able percolate downwards, but was confined to the near-surface zone. This favoured the slow movement of a well-lubricated layer of ‘sludge’, even on slight slopes, less than 1° in some cases. There would have been little binding vegetation to impede the flow, and the general effect of the whole process is to smooth out the landscape.

On the Worcestershire side of the Malvern Hills, there are extensive sheets of these soliflucted materials, which are usually called head on geological maps. These deposits reach as far as the River Severn, grading into some of the terrace deposits. They have a wide mixture of sediment sizes (diamict) and so in small exposures can be confused with glacial till. At Castlemorton Common, where they are known as “Malvern Gravels’, exposures of these deposits in the banks of local streams reveal a high component of broken Precambrian rocks from the nearby Malvern Hills. These exposures also reveal involutions (layers of gravel distorted into curved shapes), created by freeze-thaw action after the gravels were deposited. At Beckford Quarry in the Carrant Valley south of Bredon Hill, successive layers of slope deposits (locally referred to as ‘fan gravels’) can be clearly seen. In this case, the layers are made up of limestone and sandstone fragments derived from local Cotswold rocks, and a combination of solifluction, input of wind-blown sand, and local stream action was involved.

Although the Worcestershire landscape is largely dominated by the post- Anglian river systems of the Severn and the Avon, there is evidence surviving of the pre-Anglian rivers and lakes, including the Mathon in the area around Tenbury, which was substantial river that flowed west of the Malverns until the Anglian glaciation carved up and altered the landscape.  In the late 19th century, scholars mapped the distribution of distinctive rock types called erratics: boulders transported by ice away from their place of origin. Some people held to rival theories that erratics were dropped from floating ice or moved by rivers. However, the discovery of erratic blocks of igneous basalt at Romsley Hill at 275 m altitude, much higher than its source in Rowley Regis in the Black Country, confirmed that they were deposited by glaciers. Maps published by Daniel Mackintosh in 1879 and Fred Martin in 1890 showed that erratics from the Lake District and Scotland were common to the north of Birmingham. In contrast, in the city itself and in the northern fringes of Worcestershire, the erratics were from North Wales. The locations of the two sets of erratics defined pathways that crossed. This led to an early realization that more than one phase of glaciation had occurred, since converging glaciers move side-by-side rather than crossing.

Horizontal layers of gravel and sand in River Severn terrace deposits, Clifton,  A mammoth tusk lies at the base of the exposure.
Horizontal layers of gravel and sand in River Severn terrace deposits, Clifton,  A mammoth tusk lies at the base of the exposure. Photo © Worcestershire County Council

Faunal Evidence

The last million years in Worcestershire has been marked by an amazing diversity of animals, large and small, as the climate fluctuated. As temperatures rose species were able to expand into new areas, before being pushed back further south as the climate turned colder.

During warm interglacials, herds of horses, bison and aurochs would have roamed the open grasslands of Britain. Beavers and dolphins swam in our rivers; at the height of the Hoxnian Interglacial (around 400,000 years ago) oak forests were home to deer and macaque monkeys.

Lions, bears, wolves and early humans would have hunted large animals like rhinoceros and the straight tusked elephant. Straight tusked elephants are now extinct but they were once the largest Ice Age animal of all, twice as large as elephants today and even bigger than a mammoth. They could grow to four metres in height, ten tonnes in weight and their straight tusks could grow to over three metres in length.

Around 130,000 – 115,000 years ago, a particularly warm interglacial allowed tropical species to live in Britain. Hippopotamus bones have been found in Worcestershire at Eckington, Bengeworth and Stourbridge. Spotted hyenas, lions and narrow-nosed rhinoceros are also known to have lived in Britain during this time.

In comparison, glacial Worcestershire was populated by animals suited to cold, arctic conditions. With the exception of the brutally cold Anglian glaciation around 480,000 years ago – when two-thirds of Britain was under several hundred meters of ice – plants and animals were able to live and thrive here during glacial periods. Animals like the woolly rhinoceros, bison, musk ox, reindeer and the Irish elk, which had the largest antlers of any animal that ever lived (three and a half metres from tip to tip), were all residents of snowy Ice Age landscapes.

But the story of Worcestershire’s Ice Age animals is not quite as clear cut as it first appears. ‘Millicent’ mammoth, discovered in 1990 at Strensham Service along the M5, was found in with deposits containing cold-adverse mollusc species; showing Millicent lived in open grassland with a climate similar to Britain’s today. Whilst we tend to picture mammoths walking across deep snow, they could survive in more temperate climes – to a point. As the world began to warm up after the last glacial, which reached its peak around 21,000 years ago, the habitat and numbers of mammoths and other Ice Age animals dwindled. Human hunters further reduced these populations. The very last mammoths known in Northern Europe were found in 1986 at Condover, Shropshire. They died 14,000 years ago.

Another interesting anomaly is the finding of faunal remains during the excavation of the railway tunnel through the Malvern Hills in 1850s.  Solifluction deposits excavated near to the eastern entrance of the tunnel — which lies at a height of 130m above sea level — were found to contain ‘perfect rhinoceros molars’, indicating that Woolly Rhinoceros must once have browsed the higher slopes of the Malverns. The fossils are lost, but were described by local vicar and antiquarian Rev. W.S. Symonds in 1883.

Reconstruction of a Woolly Rhinoceros (by Pighill Reconstruction).  Rhino is one of the most frequent fossil finds in the county.
Reconstruction drawing of a Woolly Rhinoceros  Rhino is one of the most frequent fossil finds in the county.
Image created by Andi Watson, Pighill Reconstruction. Reproduction rights Worcestershire County Council and Museums Worcestershire

Humans in Worcestershire

Studying the lives of humans in the last Ice Age is often difficult: the organic materials that they used for tools, shelter, and clothing rarely survive across such a long span of time. Humans in the Ice Age were hunter-gatherers – they moved across the landscape lightly. But the evidence is there, hidden deep within river gravels, estuary silts, and caves.

800,000 years ago a group of early humans walked over estuarine mud flats. Remarkably, their footprints survived and were recorded on the Happisburgh coast, Norfolk in 2013. This is the earliest evidence of humans so far found in Britain – researchers suggest the footprints were made by Homo antecessor, a species found elsewhere in western Europe.

By 500,000 years ago it’s likely that another human species was living or passing through the West Midlands: Homo heidelbergensis. A group of handaxes were found at Waverly Wood, Warwickshire alongside animal remains, including straight-tusked elephants. The stone is not local and comes from an outcrop in the Lake District; it is unlikely to have been moved by glaciation, reminding us how mobile these communities were. There is no known evidence from Worcestershire at this time, but the Waverley Wood finds demonstrate that subsequent glacial scouring may not have removed all traces, meaning that other sites or artefacts might be waiting to be discovered.

At Boxgrove in Suffolk, Homo heidelbergensis lived alongside elephant, lions and hyenas. The stone tools they made and bones of animals that they hunted were found where they’d fallen, half a million years before. Human bones and teeth were also found; the earliest human fossils from Britain. Homo heidelbergensis have been called the handaxe makers because of the beautifully crafted handaxes they made, used and left behind.

About 480,000 years ago and the British Isles were hit by the most extreme glaciation of the last million years: the Anglian Glaciation. Parts of Britain were entirely covered in thick ice and humans were absent from Britain for at least 50,000 years.  Worcestershire lay under several hundred meters of ice.

About 400,000 years ago a young woman died at Swanscombe in Kent. Her skull still survives, which shows characteristics of a new species – Homo neanderthalensis. Over the next 350,000 years the climate regularly switched between warm and cold and the Neanderthals came and went from Britain. Despite learning to adapt to the colder northern environment, they were beaten back from Britain several times when the climate was particularly harsh.

Worcestershire’s first visitors?  The oldest evidence of people found so far in the county is the Allesborough handaxe at c.500-300,000 years old.  The edges are worn smooth from millennia spent in river gravels. It was probably made during one of the warmer interglacial spells, between 300,000 and 424,000 years ago, by Homo heidelbergensis, although it is difficult to be certain about which species of human were in Britain at different times.

Most local handaxes are made from flint or quartzite, but this one uses a rare and unusual black volcanic rock. The Allesborough handaxe’s nearest matching sources are Cornwall or Yorkshire, so the rock was either brought to Worcestershire along seasonal migration routes or carried here by glacial activity. Either way, our ancestors were drawn to its striking, unusual appearance when they selected it to make this tool.

Allesborough handaxe drawing and image.

The Allesborough handaxe. Image © Historic England/Worcestershire County Council

The severe cold that began 180,000 years ago forced people out of Britain once more and this time Britain was deserted for 120,000 long years. The climate changed during this time but despite one of the warmest periods of the last half million years, people did not return. Hippos basked in the rivers and elephant walked across the countryside without the company of humans.

Around 60,000 years ago Neanderthals returned to Britain. The climate was tolerable but still cold and sea levels so low that much of the North Sea and English Channel were dry land, allowing migrating animals and their Neanderthal hunters to travel north into Britain once more. These were to be the last of their species. They shared the landscape with bison, aurochs, bear, wolf, mammoth, woolly rhino and reindeer.

Around 45,000 years ago a new type of tool appears in Britain and its maker is still uncertain. Long blades shaped to leaf points were produced. The largest leaf point site is at Beedings in West Sussex, where leaf point makers sat at the top of a hill watching prey below and repaired their tools, replacing broken tips with new ones. Tantalisingly, these blades may have been made by the very last Neanderthals or they might the first signs of a new species, modern humans like us: Homo sapiens.

The earliest human bone belonging to our own species is a jaw fragment found in Kent’s Cavern in Devon. Scientific analysis estimates it to be at least 40,000 years old. Modern humans were highly adaptable and innovative hunter-gatherers who lived in larger groups with wider social networks. They appear to have moved over large distances sharing new ideas and knowledge.

Around 40,000 years ago the last separate Neanderthal populations died out across Northern Europe and modern humans, like us, became the only people left on the planet.

A severe glaciation pushed humans out of Britain again from c.25,000 years ago.  Modern humans returned c.14,000 years ago as the ice again receded, bringing a very different toolkit to the region, characterised by small, delicate implements and projectile points, made by carefully modifying long slender flint blades. They are rare: the small bands of people venturing into Britain for brief spells during the later stages of the Ice Age left little trace.

Timeline showing past human occupation in Britain.
Timeline of past human occupation in Britain. Image created by Andi Watson, Pighill Reconstruction. Reproduction rights Worcestershire County Council and Museums Worcestershire

Research Questions

Past human presence in Worcestershire is poorly understood. Traditionally Palaeolithic and Pleistocene research in Britain has focussed in the south and east of England where evidence of our ancestors is far more abundant and apparent.  There is, however, plenty of evidence to show that Worcestershire has much to add to our understanding of the human story. 

The following research priorities have evolved from a number of local, regional and national projects. They are a culmination of research in Worcestershire that followed on from the Shotton project and was developed over the course of around 15 years through funding predominantly from Historic England (previously English Heritage) and Heritage Lottery Fund. It is intended that future research will build on this work and improve our knowledge of this fascinating period of our early prehistory.  Further information on the projects and the more detailed research can be found at www.iceageworcestershire.com

Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) are used for dating rather than the traditional Upper, Middle and Lower Palaeolithic. It was felt essential to incorporate Marine Isotope Stages as this chronological framework is widely used in Quaternary Science publications and the majority of the geological, climatic and environmental data, in which the archaeological record sits, is presented in this format. This is particularly apparent in the recent works of Penkman et al. (2011) and McMillan et al. (2011) whose aminostratigraphic and lithostratigraphic frameworks for the British Quaternary are presented in Marine Isotope Stages. The dates for the MIS boundaries in the Worcestershire framework are those that are shown in Lisiecki and Raymo (2005). By using MIS, a better context for activity can be achieved. For example, the Middle Palaeolithic, a range of c.150,000 years, is grouped together and seemingly gives the impression of constancy when in reality the period is characterised by vast climatic and environmental variations including the Wolstonian stage glaciations and the Ipswichian interglacial. The climatic and environmental context would appear to be a better chronological framework for Worcestershire.

Geoarchaeology/geology

WORCS_PAL01: Solifluction deposits on the Malverns start at the top of the Hills and stretch downslope to the east (e.g. Castlemorton Common), appearing to contain faunal remains at unusually high altitudes (130m OD). These deposits must be from several periods (Barclay et al 1990 and Barclay et al 1992). Are they burying former land surfaces? How are faunal remains distributed within them?

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Date accepted:
01/04/2021
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Active
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Solifluction deposit, Geology

WORCS_PAL02: There are early sand and gravel deposits pre-dating the Teme in the very west of the county, most strikingly in a belt of gravels running along the Kyre Valley between Bromyard and Tenbury Wells. They have been interpreted by Andrew Richards as the outflow of a large lake; occurring both north and south of the Teme Valley and originating from a floodplain some 115m OD, they are evidently very old (Richards 1999). How do these relate to remnants of the Mathon? What can they tell us about pre-Anglian drainage patterns? It would appear that the Teme originally drained to the west: at what point in the Devensian was the flow reversed?

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Date accepted:
01/04/2021
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Active
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Gravel, Sand, Drainage system, Lake, Geology

WORCS_PAL03: There are a number of questions concerning the dating of the glacial tills in the northern part of the county. The presence of pebbles from the Clent breccia in the Stour gravels (Maddy 1995) has been seen as an indicator of the proximity of a Wolstonian Ice sheet in MIS 6. The idea of Wolstonian glaciation has proved extremely controversial, because of a lack of evidence to date the deposits. In north-east Worcestershire, there is extensive till with associated sand and gravel for example along the Ridgeway south of Redditch, but it is not known if this is Wolstonian (MIS 6) or Anglian (MIS 12). Another fascinating feature of this area, as far south as Belbroughton and Bromsgrove in Worcestershire is the presence of large (up to 3 m) glacial erratics within and protruding from the top of till and which have been traced to the Arenig area, near Bala in North Wales. Do these represent a distinctive flowpath of ice during the Wolstonian glaciation? Are there glacial tills from MIS4 near Stourport? If so, how many stadials are represented in the county? Up to now, only MIS 12 and 2 confirmed, but do northern tills hint at MIS 10/6 and MIS 4?

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Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Status:
Active
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Gravel, Sand, Till, Glaciation deposit, Geology

WORCS_PAL04: Gull remnants on Bredon Hill, including the Banbury stone and the King and Queen stones, demonstrate the presence of limestone caves close to the summit of the hill. It is a dynamic landscape, defined by landslips, but the presence of substantial depths of flowstone on exposed surfaces suggest that the caves were present for a considerable length of time. Derham’s Physico-Theology (1713) records a visit to caves on Bredon Hill: the description correlates with the position of Kemerton Camp. Allies (1852, 78-80) references a large landslip at Kemerton Camp in the early 19th century, which may have obscured traces of the caves. Can further research and field prospection help to clarify their position and potential to yield archaeological evidence?

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Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Status:
Active
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Cave, Cave deposit, Limestone, Geology

WORCS_PAL05: To date, we lack in-situ archaeological deposits within the county. However, the fresh condition of early Middle Palaeolithic artefacts such as the Hallow handaxe (Shaw 2013), and late Glacial implements such as those from Kemerton (Jackson 2005), imply that at least some of the artefacts from the county are likely to have suffered little post-depositional disturbance. Can we identify in-situ deposits in the county?

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Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Status:
Active
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Artefact scatter, Deposit, Handaxe, Geology

WORCS_PAL06: A particular area requiring reassessment is the Holt Heath Member. This member is believed to be composite, representing multiple phases of deposition. Thus the dating of this unit has proven problematic in the past (Dawson and Bryant 1987, Maddy et al 1995) and deposition is currently dated to between 109,000 – 20,000 years ago (MIS 5d – MIS 2/ LGM (Last Glacial Maximum)). The Upton Warren Beds contained within the Holt Heath Member have been dated to between 80,000 – 57,000 years ago by amino acid dating (Bowen et al 1989; 2000) and 42,000 years ago by radiocarbon dating (Coope et al 1961) thus indicating the Member was accumulating prior to and after their formation. Despite this dating, the Member is often characterised as containing a significant proportion of Irish Sea basin erratics derived from the Devensian Stockport Glaciogenic Formation (McMillan et al 2011) thought to have been deposited during the Dimlington Stadial (22,000 – 13,000 years ago). Obviously this is in opposition to the dating from Upton Warren and therefore a clearer understanding of the timing and conditions of the Holt Heath Member’s deposition is required. It is suggested that sub-division of the unit occurs eg Holt Heath 1, Holt Heath 2 etc depending on phase of deposition or a new nomenclature is applied. It is preliminarily suggested that there are two or three divisions consisting of the lower/oldest member deposited somewhere between MIS 5d – early 4 overlying the Ipswichian faunal beds at Stourbridge, possibly a middle member deposited during MIS 4 – 3 (although this middle may have to be combined with the lower, it also includes the Upton Warren Beds) and finally an upper, youngest member deposited during the Dimlington Stadial of MIS2 containing the Irish Sea erratics. Selection of suitable material from the Whitehead and Upton Warren archives is likely to produce material suitable for radiometric dating and/or other analytical techniques that were previously unavailable. Can we shed light on the dating of the Holt Heath member, and more specifically the Upton Warren beds?

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Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Status:
Active
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Radiocarbon dating, Palaeolithic, Deposit, Amino acid racemisation, Glaciation deposit, Geology, Deposit modelling

WORCS_PAL07: The Arrow Valley. Extensive peat deposits are recorded by the BGS along the River in the Redditch area. Anecdotal evidence (from conversations with the engineers who built Redditch New Town) indicates that the peat deposits stretch further than the BGS records. The extent and date of these deposits are intriguing as there are early Holocene C14 dates (Welin et al 1975, 158 and Shotton 1978). What date did the peat formation start?

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Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Status:
Active
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Radiocarbon dating, Palaeolithic, Deposit, Peat, Geology, Holocene

WORCS_PAL08: Feckenham Wylde Moor nature reserve and the surrounding area is a considerable quantity of peat and alluvium which may be late Pleistocene/ early Holocene in date. The BGS used to map a lot of it as ‘glaciolacustrine’ but this appears to have been remapped in recent times as ‘lacustrine alluvium’, although that doesn’t rule out the possibility of the basal deposits being very early (British Geological Survey, 2013, British Geological Survey 1:50000 Geology map). Late Glacial and Early Mesolithic human occupation sites are often on lake edges. Was there a Palaeo-lake at Feckenham? If there was, can we map the ancient shoreline?

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Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Status:
Active
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Alluvium, Occupation site, Early mesolithic, Peat, Lacustrine deposit, Glaciation deposit, Lake, Geology, Holocene

Lithics

WORCS_PAL09: Findspots are much more sparsely distributed in the north of the county, yet the presence of artefacts such as the Wolverley handaxe demonstrates that there is significant potential. Does the scarcity reflect hominin preference for the more southerly reaches of the Severn Valley, or does it merely reflect the more southerly focus of extractive industries and active researchers?

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Active
Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Lithic implement, Lithic scatter, Handaxe, Extractive industry

WORCS_PAL10: Are there more Palaeolithic artefacts out there in private and/or antiquarian collections?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Lithic implement, Antiquarian observation, Collections research, Artefact analysis

WORCS_PAL11: Key Late Glacial finds have been made in assemblages from later prehistoric sites (e.g. Kemerton – late glacial lithics residual within a Bronze Age settlement). Such material is often difficult to spot, especially if few diagnostic pieces are present. Excavators and specialists should be made aware of the possibility of residual Palaeolithic material in later assemblages. Are there Palaeolithic artefacts within existing later assemblages that have yet to be recognised?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Lithic implement, Artefact scatter, Assemblage, Lithic scatter, Glaciation deposit, Artefact analysis, Artefact studies, Later prehistoric

WORCS_PAL12: Re-use of Palaeolithic material in later prehistory is evident at Clifton Quarry, where two examples of Palaeolithic implements being re-worked in the Neolithic/Bronze Age have been recently noted (Anderson-Whymark 2018, Hedge 2017). These implements have interesting implications for the way in which people in later prehistory viewed their past, and on the visibility of Palaeolithic landscapes in later prehistory. Are there other examples of the re-use of Palaeolithic material in the West Midlands?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Lithic implement, Quarry, Lithic scatter, Landscape, Artefact analysis, Artefact studies, Later prehistoric

WORCS_PAL13: The alleged Aurignacian scraper held at the British Museum was unavailable for high-res photography and/or illustration during the 2014 project. This is something that should be considered for further work as the confirmed identification of a scraper of this date is nationally significant. Due to its significance, the preparation of a short journal article confirming the identification of the Aurignacian should be considered as concerns regarding the provenance and identification of the artefact have rightly been raised (Dinnis 2012). As part of the preparation of this article, the reassessment of Whiteheads notes should be undertaken to try and confirm the exact location and nature of the context from which it was recovered. Can funding be secured to achieve this?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Lithic implement, Scraper (tool)

WORCS_PAL14: What date do we have re-occupation of the area after the Last Glacial Maximum? Where might we expect late glacial lithic scatters? The shouldered points from Kemerton attest to the presence of humans in county at the end of the Upper Palaeolithic, but the finds were redeposited in a much later context. Research should be undertaken to establish when people returned.

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Lithic implement, Occupation site, Lithic scatter

Faunal

WORCS_PAL15: Key assemblages of faunal remains, especially those excavated in the mid-19th century, are missing. Examples include: deer antlers from Defford, noted by William Symonds as being in the possession of Lady Coventry; woolly rhinoceros remains from the cutting of the Colwall railway tunnel, and elephant remains from beneath what is now Malvern St James’ School. At least some is thought to have gone to William Boyd Dawkins during his time as curator at Manchester Museum. Some of these lost specimens have the potential to aid dating of key deposits, such as the solifluction deposits on the east of the Malvern Hills. There may yet be more mentioned within the archives of local history societies or field/naturalists’ clubs. Can we locate and assess this material?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Animal remains, Deposit, Antler, Solifluction deposit, Community-led research, Deposit modelling

WORCS_PAL16: Human butchery/modification marks have been noted on a number of faunal specimens presumed to be of Pleistocene date, including the antlers from Defford (missing), and specimen 2468 in the Whitehead catalogue. However, as yet none of these have been confirmed. Can we substantiate this evidence – especially from the vicinity of Bredon Hill, as this would help us to correlate the faunal and artefactual evidence?

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Status:
Active
Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Animal remains, Antler, Butchery site, Artefact studies

WORCS_PAL17: Faunal remains continue to be recovered by quarry operators: productive informal working relationships between local archaeologists and quarry staff have recently led to the recovery and conservation of a number of examples, including the Clifton tusk. Their value is not merely academic: quarry operators have benefitted from positive publicity, and the discoveries have attracted considerable public interest. The value of such discoveries to public understanding of the Pleistocene should be acknowledged, and fruitful dialogues between operators and local specialists encouraged. Can we focus resources on interaction with quarry companies to allow suitably trained and inducted professionals and volunteers access to active extraction sites to scan the reject heaps? This may lead to access for brief recording of faces and collection of material that would previously have been lost.

More information on this question
Status:
Active
Date accepted:
01/04/2021
Found in the following Frameworks:
Worcestershire
Categories:
Palaeolithic, Quarry, Animal remains, Extractive industry

Bibliography

Allies, J 1852 On the ancient British, Roman, and Saxon antiquities of Worcestershire, London

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