Record Details

NHER Number:5307
Type of record:Monument
Name:Late Upper Palaeolithic blade industry

Summary

Several hundred Early Prehistoric worked flints were found at this site in 1964. The majority were recovered during a small excavation that was undertaken after the first pieces were discovered. The bulk of the assemblage was given to the Norwich Castle Museum, where it has been examined by a number of researchers. Although there was initially some uncertainty as to the age of this assemblage it is now accepted as being of Late Glacial date, although its composition is unusual. This important assemblage comprises over 700 worked flints and includes blade cores, core trimmings and many blades, some of which are over 150mm long. Various retouched implements have also been identified including small pieces of microlithic character, truncated blades and several burins. The assemblage is distinguished from the county's other known long blade industries by the virtual absence of scrapers and the notable number of truncated blade segments.

Images - none

Location

Grid Reference:TL 7118 8757
Map Sheet:TL78NW
Parish:HOCKWOLD CUM WILTON, WEST NORFOLK, NORFOLK

Full description

Late Upper Palaeolithic flint long blade industry.

CIRCUMSTANCES OF DISCOVERY

This important assemblage was discovered by F. Curtis, a local amateur who collected worked flints from numerous fields in the Feltwell area during the 1950s and 1960s. According to his notes (see copy in file) a few long flints were first found at this site in February 1964, which led to a small excavation after the corn had been harvested. This subsequent work recovered numerous long flakes, cores and smaller flakes. According to contemporary correspondence these finds were found resting on sand, beneath the Fen peat. No 'buttery clay' was present. Information from (S1). These discoveries were first reported in (S2).

INITIAL ANALYSIS

Soon after its discovery this assemblage was brought to the Norwich Castle Museum, who acquired most of the 742 pieces recovered (NWHCM : 1964.512). At this stage the assemblage was recognised as potentially 'Epi-Palaeolithic'. The material was first examined by N. Langmaid, who illustrated a range of the flints (S3)-(S27). She also produced a short reported on the assemblage (S28) which summarised the assemblage as follows:
11 cores.
79 waste flakes.
171 plain blades.
214 snapped blades.
31 blades thinned on upper surface of bulbar end.
59 core rejuvenation flakes.
10 spalls.
36 utilised blades.
22 retouched blades.
9 backed blades.
2 ?scrapers.
37 burins and ?burins.
13 notched blades.
Of the 265 complete blades 60% (165) were between 1" and 2.5" long. It was noted that the industry was characterised by an uneven technique with a large number of pieces having evidence of hinge fractures. Many pieces have areas of cortex surviving. Where there was evidence for burin blows these generally applied rather haphazardly and in some cases of unclear use (although some pieces were identified as 'bec-de-flûte' and angle burins). It was also noted that the scrapers were extremely dubious. Although microliths of recognisable forms were not present there were however some small blades, some of which had been slightly retouched. Langmaid also noted some possible similarities between this assemblage and the flints that had recently been discovered by Col. T. C. Kelly during excavations at King Farm, Beck Row, Mildenhall (Suffolk HER MNL 005).

Langmaid's drawings and reports were examined by Joan Sheldon and Dr. John Waechter at the University of London Institute of Archaeology. The latter apparently regarded the assemblage as somewhat difficult to date, although he noted that two obliquely retouched blades were characteristic of the 'Maglemosian' (i.e. more of Mesolithic character).

See file for further details.

SUBSEQUENT RE-EXAMINATIONS

This assemblage has been re-examined or discussed by a number of researchers in the decades following its discovery, with the varying interpretations reflecting on-going uncertainty regarding its likely date. It was, for included in Wymer's gazetteer of Mesolithic sites (S29), where it is listed as comprising 10 cores, 702 flakes/blades, 1 scraper and 6 other implements.

The assemblage was also examined by F. Healy as part of her research on pre-Iron Age activity in the Wissey Embayment. The following quantifications were presented in (S30):
9 two-platform blade cores (7 with opposed platforms, 2 with one platform at an oblique angle).
2 multi-platform cores.
6 fragments of waste.
351 blades.
204 flakes (including core trimming flakes).
1 end scraper.
1 backed blade.
6 notched blades.
2 ?burins.
8 truncated blades.
20 misc. retouched pieces.
2 flakes from ground implements.
According to (S30) the assemblage is in generally fresh condition and made of high quality grey-black flint. Healy recognised this as a long blade industry of Late Glacial date, although she notes the possibility that some later pieces are also present. In particular, it is noted that the backed blade is microlith sized (although retaining its bulb) and is more corticated than the rest of the collection.

This assemblage was also discussed in detail by Wymer and Robins in their paper on Norfolk long blade industries, within which a number of Langmaid's original drawings are reproduced (S31). The quantification given differ slightly from those given by Healy:
1 microlith (presumably the backed blade discussed by Healy).
4 burins.
1 notched piece.
10 truncated pieces.
5 bruised pieces.
9 utilised blades.
12 cores.
29 core trimmings.
453 blades and blade segments.
137 flakes and flake fragments.
20 spalls and chips.
It is noted in this article that that the assemblage is distinguished from other known examples by the absence of scrapers and the number of deliberately truncated blade segments.

This assemblage was also examined by R. Jacobi, who identified several blades/blade fragments as Grossklingen and Riesenklingen. Although the quantifications and identifications recorded in (S32) are broadly similar to those given in (S30) and (S31) there are some notable differences. Retouched implements identified by Jacobi included 10 'truncations', 1 denticulated blade (presumably the notched piece identified by Robins and Wymer), 1 blade with slightly nosed tip (?weak 'bec'), 4 possible microliths and several other retouched blades. Other pieces not noted in the other quantifications include 4 burin spalls and 38 crested blades/flakes. A copy of these drawings that had been sent to J. J. Wymer was found in the British Museum's Wymer Archive (S33).
Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 14 November 2013.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • LITHIC WORKING SITE (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • FINDSPOT (Early Mesolithic - 10000 BC? to 7001 BC?)

Associated Finds

  • BLADE (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • BLADE CORE (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • BURIN (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • BURIN SPALL? (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • CORE (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • CRESTED BLADE (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • DEBITAGE (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • RETOUCHED BLADE (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL)? (Upper Palaeolithic - 40000 BC to 10001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Neolithic - 4000 BC to 2351 BC)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Archive: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Mesolithic. Hockwold cum Wilton.
---Secondary File: Secondary file.
<S1>Archive: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S2>Serial: 1964. Council for British Archaeology Group 7 Bulletin of Archaeological Discoveries for 1964. No 11. p 4.
<S3>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade core (with one platform) from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S4>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic notched flint blade (thinned at bulb) from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S5>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic small flint blade with oblique distal truncation from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S6>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade (typical blade) from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S7>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade (typical blade) from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S8>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade retouched at bulbar end (?end scraper) from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S9>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade (thinned on upper face of bulbar end) from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S10>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic notched flint blade from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S11>Illustration: Unknown. 1964. Drawings of Upper Palaeolithic flint scrapers.. Card. 1:1.
<S11>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade (typical blade) from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S12>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade core with two opposed platforms from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S13>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint ?core rejuvenation flake/flake with ?burin blows from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S14>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint hollow scraper from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S15>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint hollow scraper from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S16>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint core from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S17>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint flake (typical flake) from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S18>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic small flint blade with oblique distal truncation from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S19>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade core with two opposed platforms from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S20>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic double-notched flint blade from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S21>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic large flint blade with ventral retouch on both distal edges from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S22>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade with damaged edges from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S23>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade with damaged edges from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S24>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint notched blade/hollow scraper from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S25>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint burin on obliquely truncated blade from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S26>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade with ?burin at bulbar end from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S27>Illustration: Langmaid, N. 1964. Drawing of an Upper Palaeolithic flint blade (typical blade) from Hockwold cum Wilton. Card. 1:1.
<S28>Unpublished Document: Langmaid, N. 1964. Hockwold Fen (512.964).
<S29>Monograph: Wymer, J. J. and Bonsall, C. J. (eds). 1977. Gazetteer of Mesolithic Sites in England and Wales with a Gazetteer of Upper Palaeolithic Sites in England and Wales. Council for British Archaeology Research Report. No. 20. p 207.
<S30>Monograph: Healy, F. 1996. The Fenland Project, Number 11: The Wissey Embayment: Evidence for pre-Iron Age Occupation. East Anglian Archaeology. No 78. p 53; Microfiche.
<S31>Article in Serial: Robins, P. and Wymer, J. 2006. Late Upper Palaeolithic (Long Blade) Industries in Norfolk. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLV Pt I pp 86-95. p 90 Fig 4, p 91.
<S32>Archive: R. Jacobi. -. Jacobi Archive. 194; 10272.
<S33>Illustration: Jacobi, R. Drawings of Late Upper Palaeolithic flint blades and retouched blades/flakes from Hockwold cum Wilton. Paper. 1:1.

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