Record Details

NHER Number:37095
Type of record:Monument
Name:Lynford Middle Palaeolithic Site

Summary

Archaeological excavations here in 2002 recorded a palaeochannel containing in situ mammoth remains and associated Mousterian stone tools and debitage. The absence of comparable sites and the quality and quantity of the artefactual, faunal and environmental evidence make Lynford the most important Middle Palaeolithic site in Britain to date. A full report has been published (2012).

Images

  • The excavation of the Palaeolithic site at Lynford in 2002  © Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service

Documents/files/web pages

Location

Grid Reference:TL 8240 9484
Map Sheet:TL89SW
Parish:STANFORD, BRECKLAND, NORFOLK

Full description

Work in the pits to the west of this site ceased in 1997. The quarry subsequently changed management and plans were put in place to open a new pit to the east. In March 2000 part of this area area was subject to an archaeological evaluation, the result of which and a subsequent excavation are recorded under NHER 35165. Several trenches were also excavated on the site of a partially preserved post-medieval floated water meadow that would be destroyed by the new quarry (see NHER 5090).

THE WATCHING BRIEF AND INITIAL DISCOVERIES

September 2001 - bone recovered from silt heap - initially though to be a human humerus but subsequently identified as a woolly rhinoceros fibula.
- then a broken handaxe, also from silt (the one noted below?).
- then worked timbers from channels just below the flood plain deposits.

12 Oct 2001 - Rhino fibula - organic clay
24 Oct 2001 - With P. Murphy.
11 Nov 2001 - Timbers in post-glacial Holocene upper level
6 March 2002 - Exposure of organic on east side + mammoth tuck.

Other finds recovered included a rolled Levaillois core. See drawing by J. J. Wymer (Sb) (reproduced in (Sc).

On several occasions between September 2000 and November 2001 the Lords were accompanied in their vists to the pit by (variously) J. J. Wymer, R. Shephard-Thorn and T. Hardaker. Several of these visits are noted in (Sa). The only find listed is a broken handaxe that was found by V. Lord on 12 October 2001. The J. J. Wymer Archive (British Museum) was however found to contain drawings and sketches of several objects that had been recovered at Lynford (almost certainly in this pit) by T. Hardaker in July 2001. These finds include two 'Kombewa type' cores (Sd) (Se) and a flake with facetted platform (Sf), these recorded as having been found on chalk at the base of the gravel.

February-March 2002.
Organic deposits exposed . The site was visited by J. J. Wymer and M. Woolnough on 6 March 2002 and the section examined and samples taken. An unrolled blade-flake and a small but definate thinning flake were found amongst the many small natural pieces of black flint present. Numerous small fragments of skull and mandible were also recovered. These finds were subsequently given to the NAU. Infromation from (Sa).

February - March 2002. Watching Brief.
An archaeological watching brief at Lynford Quarry, Mundford, Norfolk revealed a relic Middle Devensian palaeochannel with a dark organic fill containing in situ mammoth remains and associated Mousterian stone tools and debitage buried under two to three metres of bedded sands and gravels.
See (S1) for further details.
See also (S5).
S. Howard (NLA), 11 March 2010.

April - September 2002. NAU excavation of mammoth site. Excavation area 20m east-west by 13m north-south.
Palaeochannel containing in situ mammoth remains and associated Mousterian stone tools and debitage buried under 2-3m of bedded sands and gravels.
The absence of comparable sites and the quality and quantity of the artefactual, faunal and environmental evidence make Lynford the most important Middle Palaeolithic site in Britain to date.
See digital copy of (S1), offprint of (S2) and press cutting (S3) in file.
See also (S5).
J. Allen (NLA) 24 November 2004.

See (S4) in file.
J. Allen (NLA) 31 May 2005.

2012. Full report published (S6)(S7).

Lynford Quarry is nationally and internationally significant - no such well-preserved Neanderthal location exists anywhere else in the UK. It is a key record of the lives of Neanderthals and the evolution of ancient lifestyles, and looks at the relationship between the mammoth and the Neanderthal, and the question of whether the mammoths were hunted or died naturally.

In spring 2002 mammoth bones and associated Mousterian stone tools were found in situ at Lynford Quarry, near Munford village, Norfolk, UK. The finds were within the organic sediments of a palaeochannel.

Excavation was undertaken with support from Ayton Asphalte, the quarry owners, and English Heritage, funded through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ASLF). These finds are a rare example of British Middle Palaeolithic tools, associated with the Neanderthal occupation of what was then a peninsula of north-west Europe. The excavation recovered exceptionally well-preserved archaeological and palaeoenvironmental information.

The association of woolly mammoth bones with bout- coupé handaxes (bifaces) and this wealth of palaeoenvironmental data provided a unique opportunity to investigate questions of diet, land use and habitat from deposits within a small geological feature. The palaeoenvironmental evidence and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating show that the site was occupied c 65-57ka, at the transition between Marine Isotope Stages (MIS) 4 and 3. The plant and invertebrate remains indicate open conditions dominated by grasses, sedges and low-growing herbaceous communities, with small stands of birch or scrub, and areas of acid heath or bog, and a mild climate.
Finds included 1,365 identified bones, of which 91 per cent are woolly mammoth; and 2,720 lithic pieces, including 41 complete and 6 broken handaxes, and 20 flake tools. In addition, an associated sandstone block bears use traces made by a softer material, possibly wood, and was possibly used as a fire striker.

The Lynford finds give a rare opportunity to study the socioecology of Neanderthals and the relationship between their social structure and the distribution of resources in the landscape during the last cold stage of Ice Age Europe.

D. Gurney (HES), 29 June 2012.

October-November 2002. Geophysical Survey and Trial Trench Evaluation.
Archaeological evaluation of area at northern edge of quarry. See NHER 37410 for further details.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC to 40001 BC)

Associated Finds

  • AXE TRIMMING FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • CORE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LEVALLOIS CORE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • CORE (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • DEBITAGE (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • LITHIC IMPLEMENT (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Middle Palaeolithic - 150000 BC to 40001 BC)

Protected Status

  • SHINE

Sources and further reading

---Website: Larkin, N. & Warren, M.. 2002. Neanderthals in Norfolk..
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2002. A digger's dream. 4 September 2002.
---Article in Serial: Boismier, W.. 2002. Current Archaeology. 182.
---Verbal Communication: Boismier, W.. 2003.
---Unpublished Document: Collins, M. and Penkman, K.. 2004. English Heritage Report No. 33/2004. Amino Acid Racemization Analysis: Lynford Quarry, Mundford, Norfolk..
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2009. Ancient axes are returning to Norfolk. 13 November.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2002. Fantastic Ice Age finds put county on map. 2 June.
---Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 2002?. Eric digs his history.
<Sa>Unpublished Document: Wymer, J. J. Journal. Vol 7. pp 40, 44, 48, 52-55.
<Sc>Article in Serial: Lord, J. 2004. A flint knapper's foreward to Lynford. Lithics: Newsletter of the Lithic Studies Society. No 23 pp 60-70.
<Se>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. Sketches of two Palaeolithic flint 'Kombewa' cores from Lynford. Paper. 1:1.
<Sb>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. 2001. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint Levallois core from Lynford. Card. 1:1.
<Sd>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. 2001. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint 'Kombewa type' core from Lynford. Card. 1:1.
<Sf>Illustration: Wymer, J. J. 2001. Drawing of a Palaeolithic flint flake from Lynford. Card. 1:1.
<S1>Unpublished Document: English Heritage. 2003. Summary report by English Heritage on the Lynford Quarry archaeological watching brief..
<S2>Article in Serial: Boismier, W. A. et al. 2003. A Middle Palaeolithic Site at Lynford Quarry, Mundford, Norfolk: Interim Statement. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society. Vol 69 pp 315-324.
<S3>Unpublished Document: Eastern Daily Press. 2002. 'Stunning' find at a Norfolk quarry. 25 June.
<S4>Unpublished Document: Schwenninger, J.L. and Rhodes, E.J.. 2005. English Heritage Report No. 25/2005. Optically Stimulated Luminescence (OSL) Dating of Sediments from a Palaeolithic Site at Lynford Quarry, Norfolk..
<S5>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. and Penn, K. (eds). 2003. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk, 2002. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLIV Pt II pp 368-384. p 380.
<S6>Publication: Boismier, W. A., Gamble, C. and Coward, F. (eds). 2012. Neanderthals Among Mammoths. Excavations at Lynford Quarry, Norfolk..
<S7>Website: English Heritage. 2012. Neanderthals Among Mammoths.

Related records

5090Related to: Site of post-medieval floated water meadows (Monument)

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