Knife find is a clue to Stone Age life

Barbury Castle Estate, beneath the Ridgeway, where a knife blade and medieval coinshave been found in the past

Barbury Castle Estate, beneath the Ridgeway, where a knife blade and medieval coinshave been found in the past

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A FLINT knife, showing prehistoric man’s presence around Wroughton 9,000 years ago, is being analysed by the British Museum.

The Mesolithic-era object, which was used as a multi-edged blade, is among a number of significant new finds in the parish.

The implement is described as a “core” by the museum, who are assessing if it should be officially classed as Treasure Trove.

Wroughton lies next to the ancient Ridgeway path, which has evidence of a settlement dating back to Mesolithic times.

Tools from the period have been found there in the past, including at Barbury Castle, but evidence of man’s presence during the middle Stone Age is limited.

The dark-coloured, pyramid-shaped object – which has been returned to its owner until a classification can be made – was found in August and dates to between 7000BC and 4001BC.

A new industry of tool-making began during that era, to tan hides and build boats and houses.

Two silver coins are among other finds in Wroughton that are being examined by the museum.

The pieces of silver – classed as a hoard because they were found together – date back to the medieval reign of King Stephen, the grandson of William the Conqueror.

His tenure was one of the darkest periods in English history, which became known as The Anarchy after a civil war broke out with his cousin, Empress Matilda. Coins from the time are considered rarities compared with finds from other eras.

Experts at the museum believe they have identified the moneyer as Wulfwold, who worked in Southwark, South London.

The coins, dating from between 1136 and 1145, were found buried two metres apart, in May last year, and were declared Treasure Trove in September.

The objects now feature on the museum’s Portable Antiquities Database, which records finds made by the public, usually by people using metal detectors. Other discoveries from Wiltshire include a hoard of Iron Age coins, known as staters, consisting of one made of gold and eight made of silver.

The find, made in Tisbury, is being considered for classification as Treasure Trove.

Richard Henry, the finds liaison officer for Wiltshire, has documented an increasing number of discoveries from the county this year, with the Wroughton area being one of the hotspots.

“A lot of things I see are academically and archaeologically incredibly significant, but don’t always have a have a huge monetary value, so they are not things that people think are incredibly important,” he said.

“It’s often the small things that combine with the 15,000 other pieces in the jigsaw, to build up a picture of what’s going on, rather than the stand-out finds.”

A number of new finds in recent months have kept Mr Henry and his team busy.

“We have seen the statistics increase this year, with a lot of archaeologically significant finds coming up,” he said.

“It could be there are lot of active, responsible metal detectorists who are recording finds in Wiltshire, or it could be there is a lot of archaeology.

“I am seeing a lot of really interesting finds and it’s often the little things that tell you the most about the past.”

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