Record Details

NHER Number:10740
Type of record:Find Spot
Name:Unprovenanced Palaeolithic handaxes (Aldeby, marginal)


Two Palaeolithic handaxes were reportedly found in Aldeby during the early 20th century. The exact locations and circumstances of these discoveries are not known. An unprovenanced handaxe from Aldeby held by the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology may be one of these reported discoveries. The source of these objects is unclear, although it is reasonably likely that the came from one or more of the quarry pits that formerly open close to the River Waveney (at least one of which is known to have produced Palaeolithic material - see NHER 10727).

Images - none



Full description

Palaeolithic and potentially Palaleolithic worked flint objects known to have been recovered in Aldeby during the late 19th century and/or early 20th century, but with little additional information regarding provenance.


Pre December 1905. Stray Find.
Found in Aldeby around this time by a Mr Dowson:
1 Palaeolithic "Acheulean" handaxe. According to (S1) it is recorded in (S2) that this information was conveyed to W. G. Clarke by H. B. Woodward in a letter on 4 December 1905. In light of this it is curious as to why Aldeby is not listed as a source of Palaeolithic material in either (S3) or (S4).

1921-1922. Stray Find.
Found by C. Hartley:
1 Palaeolithic "Acheulean handaxe".
Information from (S1).

The above discoveries are listed in (S5) and also noted in (S6), (S7) and (S8). In all cases this is simply a reference to the above information. Neither object appears to survive in any of the known museum collections, although it is possible that Hartley's handaxe in actually now in the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (see below).

Although it is unclear where these artefacts were recovered the most likely location is a large gravel quarry at the western edge of the parish (centred TM 432 931). These pits are listed as a possible source for these finds in (S8). Another handaxe was found on the surface of a former pit here in 1972 (NHER 10723). It is also suggested in (S8) that these quarries may have also been the source of two additional handaxes that were also found by Hartley in the 1920s but recorded as coming from the adjacent parish of Gillingham (see NHER 10727).

Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 27 February 2014.


Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology:
The Cambridge University Museum holds a small ovate Palaeolithic handaxe that is recorded as being from "Alderby [sic], Norfolk" (1925.23 A). This was acquired from a Dr W. M. Tapp.

Interestingly none of the available sources appear to make any mention of this object and it is therefore possible that it is actually the C. Hartley find noted above. This suggestion is supported by the fact that Hartley is also reported to have recovered two other handaxes in neighbouring Gillingham and that the only potentially corresponding finds in a museum collection are two objects (at least one a handaxe) in the same CUMAA collection, which were also acquired from a Dr W. M. Tapp in 1925.

British Museum:
The British Museum holds a single worked flint from Aldeby that is recorded as being Palaeolithic (1919,1016.37). This object was donated by Hartley and is listed simply as "debitage". It is unclear whether this is a genuine Palaeolithic artefact, particularly as it is not listed in either (S5) or (S6).

P. Watkins (HES), 10 January 2016.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)

Associated Finds

  • DEBITAGE (Palaeolithic - 500000 BC? to 10001 BC?)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)
  • HANDAXE (Lower Palaeolithic to Middle Palaeolithic - 500000 BC to 40001 BC)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
<S1>Record Card: Clarke, R. R. and NCM Staff. 1933-1973. Norwich Castle Museum Record Card - Palaeolithic.
<S2>Unpublished Document: W.G.C. Mss 126.
<S3>Article in Serial: Clarke, W. G. 1907. The Distribution of Flint and Bronze Implements in Norfolk. Transactions of the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists' Society. Vol VIII Pt III (for 1906-1907) pp 393-409.
<S4>Article in Serial: Clarke, W. G. 1919. The Distribution of Flint and Bronze Implements in Norfolk. Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia. Vol III Pt I (for 1918-19) pp 147-149.
<S5>Monograph: Roe, D. A. 1968. A Gazetteer of British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic Sites. CBA Research Report. No 8. p 228.
<S6>Publication: Wymer, J. J. 1985. Palaeolithic Sites of East Anglia. p 73.
<S7>Unpublished Contractor Report: 1997. The English Rivers Palaeolithic Project. Regions 8 (East Anglian Rivers) and 11 (Trent Drainage). Wessex Archaeology. WNY-3, No.2.
<S8>Website: TERPS online database. Site 22707.

Related records - none

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