Archaeologists uncover finest Stone Age arrowhead in Britain
Release Date 10 March 2016
Archaeologists have pieced together a Neolithic flint arrowhead for the first time in 4,500 years - revealing the finest Stone Age arrowhead ever found in Britain.
It took archaeologists at the University of Reading half a decade to realise their discovery, as the two parts of the arrowhead were unearthed during two digs, five years apart, at Marden Henge in Wiltshire.
The main part of the finely worked arrowhead was found in excavations in 2010. Last year, an elongated ‘barb' was discovered a few yards away, which looked as if it might be linked to the previous find. The moment the two pieces were brought back together for the first time in 4,500 years, at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, was captured on filmjust released by the University of Reading.
Dr Jim Leary, from the University of Reading's Department of Archaeology and Director of the Archaeology Field School, where the excavations took place, said: "This is a remarkable discovery. It is without doubt the finest Neolithic arrowhead in the country. The skill and workmanship that went into making it is phenomenal.
"Stonehenge, just a few miles away, is the monumental evidence of the kind of society that existed in Britain at this time - one which spent enormous resources in demonstrating wealth, status and power. This intricate arrowhead provides more evidence of the sophistication of this society, yet can fit into the palm of your hand."
David Dawson, Director of the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, where the arrowheads are on display, said: "This stunning arrowhead is too fragile to ever have been used. It must have been made for display, perhaps at ceremonies to mark a successful hunting expedition."
The excavations are part of a University of Reading three-year project in the Vale of Pewsey, Wiltshire, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Historic England. Situated between the iconic prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, the Vale of Pewsey is a barely explored archaeological region of huge international importance.
Within the Vale lies the amazing Marden Henge. Built around 2400 BC and 10 times the size of Stonehenge, Marden Henge is one of Britain's most important but least understood prehistoric monuments. The excavation focused on a fantastically well-preserved Neolithic building, and also uncovered the remains of a Bronze Age teenager.
The excavations were among those featured on the BBC Four 'Digging for Britain' programme, broadcast on 10 March 2016 at 9pm.
The Vale of Pewsey archaeology project is set to run over the next few years. There will be further excavations in July 2016, and again in 2017. The Wiltshire Museum has exhibitions of Marden Henge and the project, which is designed to transform our knowledge of the people who built and worshipped at Stonehenge.
The University of Reading's Archaeology Field School is currently recruiting for the 2016 season. Details on how to take part in the excavations this July are available at https://www.reading.ac.uk/field-school/
The Wiltshire Museum has organised special visits to the Museum and to the excavations in July. Visitwww.wiltshiremuseum.org.uk/tours for details.