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Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Tuesday Time Table - Stone Tools: What Are They?

In prehistory stone tools were very important for everyday life; they were used for hunting, cooking, agriculture and warfare. The raw material flint is used to produce stone tools. Flint knapping is a very skilful craft which involves flaking off thin sections of flint (flakes) from a flint core to create a tool. In Bath small flint pebbles were found locally in the river, but larger pieces would have been imported to the area.

Common Tools

Barbed and Tang Arrow Head
Projectile Points – leaf shaped flints ranging from simple triangular points to complicated shapes e.g. the famous ‘Barbed and Tang’ arrow head. Points range in size and are hafted to wooden arrow or spear shafts to make weapons.
Hand Axe

Hand Axe – axes vary considerably between periods from earlier Palaeolithic flaked axes to later Neolithic polished axes. Uses include tree/wood cutting, butchery and digging.
Knives – knives are long, broad flakes, which are worked into a sharp edge and retouched if they become blunt. Sometimes knives are hafted to a wooden handle.

Scrapers - made by working one edge of a flake to sharpen it and produced in a range of sizes. Scrapers are the most commonly found implement and they were used as simple hand tools for working hide, wood, bone or food.


Awl – flint flake worked into a point at one end and used to pierce holes into material e.g. animal hide to make items of clothing.

Blade – long and thin flake which can be used in butchery/meat cutting.


Microliths – a common find from the Mesolithic period. These small blades have a multi-functional use and were often imbedded into different wooden or bone tools to make harpoons and sickles.

Amesbury Archer

The Amesbury Archer’s Bronze Age grave has an excellent example of a prehistoric hunting tool kit. The Amesbury Archer was aged 35-45 years old and originated from the European alpine region. He was buried in the Beaker burial tradition, near Stonehenge. This was an unusual grave with around 100 grave goods which indicate the man’s occupation as a hunter and a metal smith.

Hunting tool kit;

-16 Barbed and tang arrowheads.

-2 blank, ready to finish arrow head.

-2 Sandstone wrist guards, to protect the man’s wrist while using a bow.

-Flint knapping debris.

-Flint scrappers, used for skinning animals.

-Flint knife, used for butchery.

-Fire lighting kit.

-Boars tusks; a prestige item kept by those hunters skilled enough to hunt a wild boar and possible sharpened for use as awls to pierce leather.

-Red deer antler possibly used for flintknapping to finely retouch tools.

In addition to the above hunting kit other flint knapping tools would often feature in a prehistoric hunter’s kit such as a hammerstone, core and flakes. These would have been used to replace or reshape tools which are broken during hunting.

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