|17 November 2010
Late Mesolithic items found in Wales
The discovery of artefacts during gas mains excavations in Monmouth (Wales) has helped illustrate how the River Wye supported a Stone Age camp. Archaeologists found flint tools and bone fragments that indicate hunter-gatherers used the River Wye for food and transport some 6,500 to 7,500 years ago, thousands of years earlier than previously thought.
The artefacts were found - during gas mains work - under a former riverbank where the River Wye used to flow before it changed course. Elizabeth Walker, curator of Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Archaeology at National Museum Wales, examined the items after being alerted by Monmouth archaeologist Steve Clarke.
Ms Walker said: "It's a nice little group of later Mesolithic flints they are probably around 6,500 or 7,500 years old. Among the items are two little flint barbs which would have been hafted [attached] onto a piece of wood or antler and used for fishing or hunting. We have also got a scraper from there which might have been used for cleaning the skins or scraping bark and twigs. There were also quite a few waste pieces of flint used in making the tools."
Jane Bray, of Monmouth Archaeology, said local archaeologists had been keeping a close eye on the excavation work in the town. "We watch them digging, get in and have a look. These are by far the earliest finds we've had." The previous earliest known settlement in the town was believed to have been about 2,500 years old.
Ms Walker said the find suggested there was some sort of camp beside the river where people were making stone tools. "They would have been heavily dependent on fish in their diet and they would have been nomadic," she said. She said there had been significant sites of this type found in Monmouthshire previously, but none next to the river.
Edited from BBC News (8 November 2010)
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