The Neolithic British Isles refers to the period of British, Irish and Manx history that spanned from c. 4000 to c. 2,500 BCE. The final part of the Stone Age in the British Isles, it was a part of the greater Neolithic, or “New Stone Age“, across Europe.
Humans first settled down and began farming. They continued to make tools and weapons from flint. Some tools stayed the same from earlier periods in history, such as scrapers for preparing hides.
But the Neolithic also saw the introduction of new stone tool. First there was a movement away from using microliths to make spears and arrows as composite weapons and instead the universal adoption of flint arrow heads.
Neolithic tools were often retouched all over, by pressure flaking, giving a characteristic appearance and were often laboriously polished, again giving them a distinctive look.
Pottery also developed in this period and there are examples of Neolithic Pottery recorded in this collection
Provenance – Surface find at the Springfield Lyons, Bronze Age Causewayed Enclosure, Chelmsford, Essex
Description – A Small Neolithic Hammer-Stone
Size – 4 cm x 4 cm
Weight – 69g
Age / Period – Neolithic 4000 BCE – 2500 BCE
Bronze Age – Springfield Lyons Causewayed Enclosure, Chelmsford, Essex, England
Springfield Lyons Causewayed Enclosure is an interesting site just above the Chelmer Valley in Chelmsford, Essex – It originally overlooked the River below with views of an ancient Neolithic Cursus 690 meters long and further in the distance another enclosure situated in Great Baddow – All three of these sites are closely aligned on a Northern route.
These prehistoric areas of Chelmsford includes Barrows and Henges now lost.
Excavations were carried out at Springfield Lyons between 1979 – 1991 – Which established the circular earthworks to be of late Bronze Age, although finds were found that pre-dated this. So the area was certainly occupied in the Neolithic.
This particular site also yields a Saxon cemetery.
The causewayed enclosure at Springfield Lyons is an important site and now lends it’s name to other circular enclosures which closely resemble the one excavated in Chelmsford.
Some of most interesting finds found during excavation was a large quantity of clay moulds for casting swords, Neolithic pits, containing Mildenhall Ware, Grooved Ware and Beaker pottery and flint work.
These Lithic artefacts were found in practically every context excavated- In total more then 21,000 were discovered most of which were recorded.
Scrapers were the most numerous of all the flint tools and ranged in classification based on the location and angle of retouch – some are blank too / unmodified flakes, but served their purpose as a scraping tool.
Of all the arrowheads that were found, they included leaf-shaped, barbed and tanged and transverse types.
Laurel leaves were also found, these are larger and thicker then arrowheads and may have been used for spear points
In context – other flint tools found included Knives, Fabricators, Piercers, Denticulates and Microliths.
The actual typological range of artefacts suggests that the site extends from the Mesolithic through to the late Bronze Age.
So this area of Chelmsford truly is an incredible site.