This flint flake is from Sheddon Hill, England. The flake was collected in 1947. It likely dates to the Mesolithic period, ca. 8000-6000 BP.
The artefact is curated by the Australian Institute of Archaeology, catalogue no. IA24.218.
The flake was struck from a flint or chert cobble in the early stages of reduction. A prior blow created a flake scar on the core, and a subsequent blow onto the same platform embedded a crack into the stone. A third blow detached the flake in the model, along with the embedded crack. The blow was aligned behind a ridge defined by a rounded cortical surface and the scar created by the first blow. The flake was struck by hard-hammer direct percussion. The cortex is rounded by water action, suggesting that the cobble derived from the glacial drift rather than a bedrock source. The flake has patinated to a milky-white colour, which is common for flint and chalcedony. The milky colour is caused by degeneration of the surface through an alkaline chemical reaction, and re-absorption of silica from the soil into the degraded surface.
See the annotations for technological details about this stone tool.
During the Mesolithic period, Britain was connected to continental Europe by the land mass known as ‘Doggerland’. Doggerland flooded ca. 8200-8500 years ago, isolating the population there, who continued subsisting on hunting and gathering until the arrival of Neolithic farmers from Europe ca. 6000 BP, about 1000 years after they spread across Europe. A 2019 analysis of ancient DNA suggest these people were related to people in Iberia, who themselves came into Europe around the Mediterranean coast from a hinterland on the Aegean Sea. The Mesolithic hunter-gatherers were genetically replaced by these newcomers. A second wave of immigrants arrived ca. 4000-4500 BP, called the Bell Beaker culture, with DNA ancestry related to Yamnaya pastoralists who invaded Europe from the Western Steppe. Yamnaya ancestry composed about 90% of the genetic profile of subsequent populations in Britain ‘within a few hundred years’ after their arrival. The arrival of the Bell Beaker culture in Britain signals the beginning of the Bronze Age and the end of the Neolithic.
This flake was collected from Sheddon Hill, also called Shadens Hill, near Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England . Sheddon Hill is composed of sandstone capped by glacial drift, and stands about 11 metres above the surrounding landscape. A ‘sacred spring’ or ‘holy well’ with a mortared stone well-head is present at the foot of the hill. Geometric microliths were discovered on Sheddon Hill by George Coupland in 1925. Coupland collected 521 stone artefacts from the hilltop. He assigned them to the Tardenoisian Industry because of their typological similarity to microlithic tools from the site of Fére-en-Tardenois in Belgium, discovered in 1885. Two circular stone arrangements are said to be on Sheddon Hill, and the possible remains of an Iron Age fort.