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6 August 2003
9-year-old unearths prehistoric arrow

On August 4 Alastair Dunn, aged nine, turned up at Castle Howard, Yorkshire (England) for an archaeological activity session. In one move he rewrote the site's history book by 3,500 years. Alastair discovered what Castle Howard's archaeological team have identified as a 4000-year-old Neolithic flint arrowhead, the oldest artefact discovered at the stately home to date.
     "What a great find for a young child to discover on their first stab at being an archaeologist," exclaimed David Fallon, Castle Howard archaeologist. "This discovery will encourage the whole team to hunt out further exciting finds as we continue to search out more of Castle Howard's history."
     Taking part in the stately home's 'Get Dirty on the Dig' activity, Alastair was washing finds and sieving soil from ongoing excavations at the site. He found a small piece of flint and showed it to a very surprised on-site archaeologist, who was able to identify it as Neolithic. At a dig established to search for the lost medieval village of Henderskelfe, demolished to make way for Castle Howard in 1699, all previous finds have only dated as far back as 500 years.
     Head of Visitor Services, Richard Kemp explained how the dig is all about encouraging the public not only to learn about archaeology, but to have a go at it. "I've always known the value of an archaeological excavation as the ultimate visitor attraction - they change every time you go and it isn't just what you find, it's the process behind it."
     Since Alastair's discovery, archaeologists have unearthed a number of Neolithic scrapers, which would have been used to skin dead animals.

Source: Article by David Prudames for 24 Hour Museum News (6 August 2003)

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