Author Archives: Dr Ros

About Dr Ros

Dr Ros Cleal is the National Trust Curator for the Alexander Keiller Museum, Avebury. As well as caring for and sharing the internationally significant musuem collections Ros has found time to become a leading expert in Neolithic and Bronze Age pottery. She is also co-author of 'Stonehenge in its Landscape. Twentieth Century Excavations'.

Avebury Dig 2014 – Day 9

Looking south east on 30 July

Looking south east on 30 July – and it’s still hot and sunny

Progress is being made, but it’s hot work. Two particularly nice finds today though – another hint of some Mesolithic activity, and the Early Bronze Age theme continues ….

This two-tone knife is two colours because it's been worked on at two different times, many centuries apart.

This two-tone knife is two colours because it’s been worked on at two different times, many centuries apart.

The knife started out as a flake, and Josh Pollard suggests it’s quite likely to have been made in the Mesolithic, hence the quite marked patination (the white colouration – because the surfaces have been exposed for so much longer than most of the flint we’re finding). Later on, in the Neolithic, it was found and given some shallow retouch to make it into a knife. It’s always nice to be able to read a ‘history’ like that in what seems at first glance quite a simple object.

And here's our Early Bronze Object Of The Day (as it seems it's obligatory to have one): a 'thumbnail scraper'

And here’s our Early Bronze Object Of The Day (as it seems it’s obligatory for us to have one): a ‘thumbnail scraper’ (thumbnail courtesy of Not-A-Doctor Michele)

Strictly speaking thumbnail scrapers first appeared with Beakers, so could be Chalcolithic, or final Neolithic, or whatever you want to call the time when early Beakers were in use, but they did stay in use for quite a while. They’re defined by size and are – yes, you guessed it – about the size of a thumbnail.

Avebury Dig 2014 – Day 8

 

You have to take account of the scale to realise how remarkable this barbed and tanged arrowhead is.

You have to take account of the scale to realise how remarkable this barbed and tanged arrowhead is.

Another day – another star find. None of us have seen a barbed and tanged arrowhead that’s both this small and this well made. It was really difficult for our volunteer photographer Mike Robinson to get a picture of this without a stand etc (it was taken on site, in really strong sunlight) – and unfortunately it doesn’t really show the detail very well; it’s a really beautifully worked arrowhead. Josh (Pollard) says that it’s clearly a case of deliberate miniaturisation, because of the quality of work, not just someone using up a small bit of flint. So once again – more Early Bronze Age material has come up – Where’s the Peterborough Ware I say?!

Avebury Dig 2014 – Day 4

Day Four was as broilingly hot as the previous three, but at least there were some great finds to keep the team going.

Flint knife found in Jess and Soph's square using a giant sponge hand (not really!)

Flint knife found in Jess and Soph’s square using a giant sponge hand (not really!)

The flint knife has got some nice retouch and Josh (Dr Josh Pollard) says it looks like a plano-convex knife and therefore likely to be Early Bronze Age – which is a lot later (perhaps getting on for a thousand years) than most of our finds.

A large flint scraper  found by David on his first day

A large flint scraper found by David on his first day

The scraper, on the other hand, is more likely to be of the same date as the other finds and around 5,000 years old.

There's no way of making this look good - but it's a really interesting piece of pot (no, really, it is!)

There’s no way of making this look good – but it’s a really interesting piece of pot (no, really, it is!)

But this is probably the best find of the day – even though it looks like a piece of mud – because we think it’s a piece of Bronze Age pottery. If it is (and we need to have a look at it under a microscope before we can be sure) then it would seem to go with the knife that came up today, a barbed and tanged arrowhead that came up last year, and a jet bead found in this area in 1934 by Alexander Keiller. So a bit of an Early Bronze Age thing going on here – which we didn’t really expect.

There’s no digging on Friday as the team are having a well-deserved rest, so next update on Saturday 26th.