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21 August 2005
Ice Age engravings found in Somerset

A series of rare engravings, believed to date from the Mesolithic period, 10,000 years ago, have been discovered in a cave in Somerset (England). The three abstract squares, thought to have been made with stone tools, were found in Long Hole cave in Cheddar by the University of Bristol Speleological Society. The find follows the discover of ancient inscribed crosses at nearby Aveline's Hole cave in February this year.
     Experts have not been able to determine the meaning of the engravings yet, but say they are extremely important and one of only three examples of this kind of art to be discovered in Britain. The society's team leader, Graham Mullan, said: "These engravings are not awfully exciting if you're into high art - they are three bunches of straight lines. But they are very important because we think they were created just after the end of the Ice Age."
     Aveline's Hole, close to the cave, is believed to be the earliest scientifically dated cemetery. Some 20 skeletons, dating back between 10,200 and 10,400 years, were taken from the cave by the society in 1914. They were stored at Bristol University, but destroyed during a second world war raid.
     The speleological society's research into the engravings is being carried out with the British Museum's department of prehistory and Europe. Jill Cook, the deputy keeper in the department, said: "The new engravings are clearly ancient and comparable to early post glacial pattern panels found elsewhere in Europe.

Source: Press Association, The Guardian (18 August 2005)

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