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Sunday, 26 August 2012

After the Devensian Glaciation......



This is an interesting map (made by prof Fred Shotton in the 1960's) showing the distribution of Lower Palaeolithic artefacts in Southern Britain.  The single dots represent sites where up to ten artefacts have been found -- and the larger dots indicate more than ten finds at a location.  Shotton was very keen on showing the distribution of flint finds -- so most of these sites will show places where flint was used -- but he must also have included artefacts made with other stone types as well.  There is obviously a relationship here with the limit of the Devensian glaciation, since the SE quadrant of the country is where the great majority of finds have been recorded.  But cave finds are not shown on this map -- and there are plenty of those, including some in areas which were demonstrably glaciated during the Devensian.

My main interest here is in the counties of Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, where remarkably few of these Lower Palaeolithic finds are recorded.  I wonder how this might relate to the nature and extent of the snow and ice cover during the Devensian glacial episode?

6 comments:

Tony H said...

You may find it interesting/useful to look at this site:-

"Revised Avebury Resource Assessment 2012" by Wessex Archaeology

Go to Section 2.
Then to "Lower & Middle Paleolithic" by Julie Scott-Jackson

There may well be a Lower Paleolithic component to these studies too.

A useful contact may be Dr Nick Snashall, who is based sometimes at Avebury, sometimes at Stonehenge, and works for the National Trust. I think she might be quite helpful. You can still contact her via the national Trust at Alexander Keiller Museum, at Avebury, Brian; she will have a phone extension/email. I have attended one of her Flint Workshops there. No doubt she may know about Lower Paleolithic finds westwards of Wiltshire such as Somerset.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Tony -- will try to check out these things. The map which I used in this post is very old -- I quite appreciate that there must be other versions that are much more up-to-date....

geocur said...

John Wymer produced a great study with more recent distribution maps in 1999 .
The problem is that most of the finds tend to be due to the opening up of gravel quarries in river valleys , an emphasis on searching the honeypot areas of the south east and east Anglia and the difficulty of recognition outwith the flint rich areas . These factors can skew the distribution .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Thanks Geo -- yes, I have come across John Wymer's work. There is a major problem with flint and other apparent "implements" found in river gravels etc. Their identification as genuine human artefacts has in many cases been questioned, as I understand it. Even if there are genuine artefacts in gravels, the distribution map of such finds must have a very large random element in it.

geocur said...

Finds from the gravel are the major source . Any problems regarding provenance are equally applicable to the Shotton distribution map .

BRIAN JOHN said...

Of course they are, Geo. I didn't suggest otherwise.