Bronze Age site
A team of amateur archeologists excavating a Bronze Age site in the United Kingdom has unearthed a cache of unusual stone tools deposited in an ancient stream more than 4,000 years ago. The finds were made by members of the Clwydian Range Archaeology Group (CRAG) on a plateau near the Moel Arthur hill fort in northeast Wales.
The Moel Arthur hill fort and five other hill forts in the region were built around 800 B.C., during the Iron Age in Britain.
The Bronze Age site excavated by the CRAG team is thought to be much older: built around 2500 B.C., based on carbon dating of charcoal fragments. [Read full story about the excavations at the Bronze Age site]
Archeologists don't yet know what they were used for, but each shows heavy signs of wear and pitting at the sharpest end, indicating they have been used to hammer or chip away at other rocks. Archeologist Ian Brooks thinks they may have been used to chip away at rock faces and boulders to create marks and designs, such as ring shapes, a characteristic type of ornamentation found at many Bronze Age sites in Britain.
The group is made up of local amateurs who have spent several years working at the site under the guidance of professional archaeologists. Their finds so far suggest the site was occupied by an agricultural community around 4,500 years ago, when it was used for several different types of activity.
Brooks thinks they may have been deposited in the stream deliberately, perhaps in a ritual after they had been used for their purpose, whatever it was. He noted that many small objects from the Bronze Age in Europe have been found in what once were wet locations, such as swamps or bogs, and that they may have been deposited as a form of ritual offering.
Geophysical surveys also suggest there was at least one roundhouse, a typical type of group dwelling during the Bronze Age in Britain, at the site.
A large operation
It's thought the hot water may have been used for cooking, for brewing beer, or for making steam for a sweat lodge.
Lots of history
Researchers think the inhabitants of the site excavated by the CRAG team were agriculturalists who grew grain on the high land in the area, at a time when the low-lying Vale of Clwyd was probably too swampy for plowing.
One of several
Their large size suggests to many archaeologists that their main purpose was not to defend against hostile human raiders. Instead, the hill forts may have been built to enhance the status of the communities that built them, or for ceremonial purposes, or for protecting communal herds of animals from predators like wolves and bears.