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Peering Back to the Bronze Age

An ancient flint arrowhead in situ in brown earth with a few blades of grass nearby
Bronze Age arrowhead in the earth

Andy went walking in the woods yesterday. It's a path we've walked, together and separately, hundreds of times. A lot of hundreds of times now that I think about it! It's also a path which has been walked by countless others for thousands of years and right back through the ages. The same route, the same places, footsteps in footsteps. It begins through a beautiful wildflower area of meadowy downland and then enters ancient woodland and becomes tree-lined with copses on either side.

A rounded grey stone with a knobbly surface which has been smoothed over time. It is placed on an old log.

Whenever Andy walks in places, he amazes me. I've never known anyone else who can simultaneously spot buzzards and owls up above and find so many ancient things under his feet! I'm sure the Ancestors place them in his path and whisper where to look. To be fair, he usually studies and discards hundreds of pieces of flint, stones, bark, all sorts for each actual find that he makes. Maybe the trick is to look, really look and to keep looking.

Yesterday, walking the path we've walked and walked, he spotted the shaped base of a piece of flint. It looked interesting .. he gently pulled it from the earth and wow, just wow! It's an arrowhead. A barbed and tanged arrowhead. The tang is the centre part of the base and the barbs are the parts either side of that.

A muddy arrowhead held in a hand for scale
Muddy arrowhead straight after finding it

Most likely, it could date back to the early Bronze Age. Someone, probably a hunter, was walking this land maybe 5,000 years ago and lost an arrow. Maybe they were hunting the wild boar this woodland still attests to in its ancient name. Possibly, it was shot into the scrubby undergrowth and too hard to find - not that it would have been given up easily.

Just imagine the work, and skill, involved in making this arrowhead and the rest of the arrow. It was the height of weapons technology at the time. Such an incredible find and amazing to think that the last person to hold it was alive so long ago, walking the same area. It really makes you wonder who they were - younger, older, woman, man? These finds are a direct connection to the past, a type of time travel.

A grey piece of flint with an angular edge, placed on an old log
Microblade core

Nearby was a pot boiler and a microblade core. We mentioned pot boilers in a previous post but basically, it's a stone that was heated in an open fire, then dropped into a cooking pot of stew to heat the water up and cook the food. The stone was then removed and placed back into the fire to be used again.

Moving on to the microblade core, that's a rounded nodule of flint which has had tiny blades knocked from it which would have been used for all sorts of tasks from food preparation to use in other weapons. The core is the lump which remains after the microblades have been removed. Can you see the surface pattern on it in the picture above? It shows that this core had been thrown into a fire at some point, or possibly even re-used as a pot boiler.

I just love finding pot boilers. They're pretty common if you look in the right areas, and once you know what you're looking for. They're recognisable by their rounded shape and, especially, the crazing and flaking on their surface which shows the repeated heating and cooling. They speak of everyday life and normality, of meals and people sitting around a fire cooking and sharing food. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to tap into the memories of these places, to know who sat here, what they hunted, what they cooked and ate. Imagine the stories they could tell...

A larger grey potboiler stone with a smaller core and arrowhead, placed in a group on an old log
The group of finds together - imagine the stories they could tell!

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Sep 28, 2023

Potboilers I have found, and bronaze age blades, but how I would love to find an arrowhead. What an amazing find! Treasure!

Sep 28, 2023
Replying to

It's amazing what's out there when you study the ground isn't it ^_^

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