Neolithic Huntingdonshire

Early Human, Neolithic, occupation in the County of Huntingdonshire in England

 

The more highly civilised Neolithic or New Stone Age people must next occupy our attention. They knew about agriculture and the domestication of animals; they manufactured pottery (though none has been found in Huntingdonshire),1 and often polished stone tools to produce a smooth, tough cutting edge.

The climatic conditions were much the same as exist to-day, possibly with rather heavier rainfall.

The county, with its large areas of forest and scrub on what are now the cold clay lands, was unsuitable for these peoples, who required a well-drained site on light land (preferably a gravel sub-soil) near a drinking-water supply, with ground near by free from forest for pasturage. It can be seen that Huntingdonshire in this period would give few such sites, and consequently the definite inhabited areas are mainly confined to the river valleys of the Nene and the Ouse, the borders of the Fens and fen islands such as Ramsey.

Among the more important finds attributable to the New Stone Age may be mentioned a ground celt, an axe like tool consisting of a hafted hard stone ground to form a blade, (see fig. 3) of greenstone from Ponds Bridge, also a number of smaller tools – arrow-heads, lozenges 2, scrapers and the like – dating from Neolithic to Bronze Age times and coming from along the Nene valley up to Stibbington 3, near the county border. Another celt of a very peculiar type, ground from a piece of greenstone, having flattened sides and a sort of knob for a handle (fig. 3) comes from the high ground at Keyston about 5 miles from Thrapston. Dean Brook, Kimbolton, has yielded a holed hammerstone, red in colour (fig. 3).

Fig. 3.

Stone and Flint Implements, Neolithic and Later found in Huntingdonshire

Stone and Flint Implements, Neolithic and Later found in Huntingdonshire

 

1. Ground and polished greenstone celt from Ponds Bridge (Ramsey). Note out curve of sides near working end'

2. Greenstone hand-celt with flat sides from Keyston. Note the peculiar knob-handle (After Evans)

3. Flat polished black celt with flat sides from Godmanchester

4. Holed weight or hammerstone from Dean Brook (Kimbolton)

5. Broken portion, similar to 4, showing splayed hole, from Sibson-cum-Stibbington

6. Small unpatinated flint knife point from Woodstone

7. Unpatinated flint "slug", flake surface underneath, from Woodstone.

8 White-patinated flint tanged arrowhead from Sibson-cum-Stibbington

9. Unpatinated flint tanged arrowhead from Sibson-cum-Stibbington.

10. Patinated lozenge, i.e., small leaf-shaped arrowhead, from Woodstone

 

(Item 1 - Peterborough Museum, 2 - British Museum, 3 - Mus. of Arch. Cambs, 4-10 G W Abbott Collection)

 

In the Ouse valley a greenstone celt 7 in. long was found at Hartford, as well as polished celts at Godmanchester and Brampton, and a chipped celt is recorded from St Neots. The writer has also found small implements of Neolithic to Bronze Age date in the fields near the Ouse at Little Paxton. As a matter of fact industries of this type seem to occur throughout the Ouse valley up to the 100 ft. contour line, below which grasslands have obscured as a rule any possible sites.

Fig. 4.

Perforated Granite Axe-Hammer from Sawtry Fen

Perforated Granite Axe-Hammer from Sawtry Fen

 

The glacial gravel plateau about the 100 ft. contour line, lying to the west of the Great North Road, has also yielded similar finds, together with a fragment of a chipped and polished axe. 4 A pierced granite hammer from Sawtry Fen (fig. 4), and some flakes from Glatton, Yaxley and other upland localities may be Neolithic or of later date.

 

Footnotes

  1. The important finds of G Wyman Abbott at Fengate are just over the border in Northamptonshire.

  2. A convenient name for a series of small, thin, leaf-shaped tools, probably used as arrow tips.

  3. A portion of a perforated weight or hammerstone comes from this site as well as barbed arrow-heads from the vicinity of the railway station to the south and north of North Road (fig. 3)

  4. For this information I am especially indebted to Mr C F Tubbutt.

 

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