Discovering Ice Age Worcestershire

The 19th century was not only a time of radical new concepts, but an era of discovery. We owe a lot to these early discoveries for proving there is still evidence out there of Worcestershire’s long lost landscapes:

As earth’s deep history and the evolution of species began to be debated and slowly accepted, researchers within Worcestershire started to investigate the particular history and geology of this region.

Some of the first to do so were Hugh and Catherine Strickland. During the mid-19th century, they discovered the remains of ancient animals, including mammoth, hippopotamus and elephant, around the River Avon and further afield. Inspired in part by the Stricklands, leading geologist Rev. William Symonds conducted fossil-hunting expeditions along the River Severn, wrote a guide for young naturalists and set up Malvern Naturalists’ Field Club and the Woolhope Club of Herefordshire.

Many of the earliest stone tools to arrive in Worcester’s collections came from key sites in France that were excavated in the mid-19th century: St Acheul, Le Moustier, and Aurignac. These tools were found in cave deposits containing the remains of extinct creatures, proving that humans had lived alongside Ice Age animals.

Despite earlier discoveries of ancient animals, by the Stricklands and others, it was not until the early 20th century that the first traces of Ice Age humans in Worcestershire were identified. In January 1915, news of the first Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) artefacts discovered in Worcestershire was announced in a lecture by W. H. Edwards.

Display board of six worked flints
Contemporary image of worked flints found by William Bruton, displayed on W.H. Edwards’ handwritten board

They were found – not by professors or learned gentlemen – but by a tailor from St Johns, Worcester, called William Bruton. Many of his finds were made close to his home in St Johns, in the soils of the extensive plant nurseries. Others came from further afield:  Bruton recognised the significance of Bredon Hill to early humans, and made a number of discoveries around Conderton.

Continue reading on Explore the Past.

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