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11 December 2011
Stone Age camp found in Staffordshire

Experts believe they have found evidence of a 4,000-year-old Stone Age camp in the Midlands - thanks to a dog walker. Roger Hall discovered a handful of strange-shaped rocks while walking his pet pooch in picturesque Cannock Wood, Staffordshire (England), but experts have identified them as flint 'flakes' - the off-cuts from tools crafted by Stone Age Man.
     "If confirmed, they could mark the spot of the only Neolithic camp known in our region," says Roger Knowles, a member of the Council for British Archaeology. He is convinced that buried beneath the grassland is a link between the period when mankind changed from nomadic hunter-gatherer to village dweller.
     Norton Canes Historical Society chairman Roger is now calling for a full excavation of the site after contacting the Staffordshire County Council archaeologist. He said: "There have been previous individual finds from the Stone Age - tools, weapons and burial sites - but never a settlement. It's very exciting. I've studied the area time and again. There's a sandstone cliff and I wonder if the people of that time built their settlement against it for shelter." He added: "It would not have been a big community, a couple of families at most living in thatched dwellings surrounded by a wooden blockade."
     The slivers of stone handed by Mr Hall to Roger is the evidence that the Cannock Wood tribe had access to flint - in an area where the stone is not native. Roger explained: "They either discovered flat pebbles of it in the River Trent, or it was imported from down south."
     In 1907, two London archaeologists discovered a New Stone Age 'flint factory' on nearby farming land. The haul included 600 flint blades and 40 complete implements. "How two experts from London discovered it is a mystery," Roger said. "I'm not even sure of the exact location now." The flint items are kept at Hanley Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, and Roger is determined to get them back.

Edited from Sunday Mercury (11 December 2011)

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