In 1997-8, a discovery on the surface of a field near Pershore brought an ancient and unusual archaeological find to light.
It is a Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) handaxe: a stone multi-tool used by early humans for butchery. The once-sharp edges are worn smooth from millennia spent in river gravels. Whilst other materials would have been used by our ancestors, only durable stone tools survive for us to study. It was probably made during one of the warm periods within the Ice Age, between 300,000 and 424,000 years ago, by hunter-gatherer ancestors of both modern humans and Neanderthals named Homo Heidelbergensis.
Most local handaxes are made from flint or quartzite, but this one uses a rare and unusual black volcanic rock. The nearest matching sources are Cornwall or Yorkshire, so the rock was either brought to Worcestershire along seasonal migration routes, or carried here by glacial activity. Either way, our ancestors were drawn to its striking, unusual appearance when they selected it to make this tool. […]
The rolling rocks brought south by the Ice Age – see them on display in Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum.
Erratics are large pebbles or boulders that have been transported and deposited often some considerable distance from their origin, usually by glaciers. By comparing the rocks with those from possible originating areas, it is possible to monitor and plot past ice movements across large areas.
Worcester city collection has three such specimens in its collection, all of which are on display in the Museum and Art Gallery.
Around 40,000 years ago, at the height of the Ice Age, these granite boulders were brought to the area by ice sheets. When the ice finally melted about 13,000 years ago, the boulders were left behind.
The two largest specimens were both found in Claines having travelled down from the Lake District and Criffel in South West Scotland.
The smallest specimen is a little more mysterious. Looking through our historical records, an entry states that in the early years of the 20th century…
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Stopping at Strensham Motorway Services… 200,000 years ago. The story of Millicent the Mammoth:
Every day thousands of motorists stop at Strensham Services, by Junction 8 of the M5 in south Worcestershire. Few are aware that, 200,000 years ago, Strensham was the final stop for a very different traveller: a young adult Woolly Mammoth, 20-25 years old.
She came to drink from a shallow pool and died there, her body settling into the soft mud. She was discovered by archaeologists during construction works in July 1990, along with bones from at least five other mammoths and a red deer antler. Initially christened Marmaduke, she was swiftly renamed Millicent once she was found to be female.
Mammoths are often associated with Arctic conditions, but the presence of cold-averse species of molluscs within the Strensham deposits reveals that Millicent lived in a climate similar to Britain today, during a warm period within Marine Isotope Stage 7 (243-191,000 years ago). The Strensham pool lay within a marshy…
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‘Cave earth’ from the ‘Reindeer Age’: Museums Worcestershire Curator Deborah Fox introduces a wonderful artefact found at the dawn of Ice Age research:
This section of a cave floor from Worcester City’s collection was excavated in the 1860s, most likely, in the town of Les Eyzies in the French Dordogne. It belongs to a cave which was occupied during the Upper Palaeolithic, between 17,000 to 12,000 years ago.
Henry Christy, an English banker and ethnologist and Édouard Lartet, a French palaeontologist began working in a cave called Grotte des Eyzies in 1863 at a time of enormous change in the study of early man.
Evidence had been mounting throughout the eighteenth century that the Earth was incredibly old, much older than the 6,000 years that Bishop Ussher had calculated from his bible studies. By the 1840s, scientists working in the Alps had come to realise that rock and gravel deposits had not been laid down by Noah’s great flood but instead by glaciers and icecaps which covered much of Europe and which we…
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