Over Easter I had the chance to go on some excursions away from PhD work, which were fascinating nonetheless…
I went to see the oldest cave art in Britain at Cresswell Crags, with a guided tour around Church Hole cave, where a series of different carvings, ranging from hunted animal species to more enigmatic geometric shapes, were carved around 13,000 BP. They were only discovered in 2003.
The museum also displays some fantastically preserved portable art – tiny, detailed carvings of a horse on a piece of bone, coloured with ochre (above), and strange bird-like shapes. There’s also many Ice Age artefacts and ecofacts (see top image for me meeting a hyena skull!)
The limestone gorge setting of the caves is very picturesque too!
Seeing Grime’s Graves from afar is a very peculiar experience. Walking up the path to the site, ahead you see a large grassy field is pock-marked by deep circular craters all over! Walking between the edges of them, it’s certainly not your everyday landscape – I’ve never seen anything like it before. These are the remains of infilled prehistoric mine shafts. During the Neolithic period, this area was a source of high-quality flint – important as a material for different tools. Using antler picks and bone shovels, amazingly people dug more than 30 feet underground to retrieve the flint, and it’s possible to see their narrow mine shafts.
Much more information about the site is available at http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/grimes-graves-prehistoric-flint-mine/