Date:

Chance discovery by archaeologists of oldest rock art in Britain

The oldest example of rock art in Britain has been discovered by archaeologists from the University of Bristol in Wales.

An engraving in South Wales, dating from around 14,000 years ago was discovered by a team from the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology and depicts a reindeer possibly engraved by a hunter-gatherer.

- Advertisement -

Dr Nash discovered the faint scratchings of a speared reindeer while visiting the Gower Peninsula caves near Swansea in September 2010.

Dr Nash, Visiting Fellow and Lecturer, said: “Although the characteristics of the reindeer drawing match many found in northern Europe around 4,000-5,000 years later, the discovery of flint tools in the cave in the 1950s could hold the key to the engraving’s true date.

“In the 1950s, Cambridge University undertook an excavation there and found 300-400 pieces of flint and dated the occupation of the cave to between 12,000-14,000 BC. This drawing appears to have engraved by an artist using his or her right hand as the panel on which it is carved is located in a very tight niche.

“Colleagues in England have been doing some work in Nottinghamshire at Creswell Crags and got very nice dates for a red deer and one or two other images of around 12,000-14,000 BC. I think this [newly found carving] may be roughly the same period or may be even slightly earlier.”

- Advertisement -

Dr Nash added: “We know from the glacial geology of the area this was an open area just before the ice limit came down from the glaciers between 15,000-30,000 years ago and it stopped just about two kilometres short of the cave site.

“We know hunter-fisher-gatherers were roaming around this landscape, albeit seasonally, and they were burying their dead 30,000 years ago and making their mark through artistic endeavour at this time when it was until recently considered Britain was an uninhabited land of ice”

The discovery is now being officially dated and has been verified by experts at Oxford and Durham universities.  The project team that includes Dr Peter van Calstern and Dr Louise Thomas from the Open University, and Dr Mike Simms from the National Museums Northern Ireland is being financially supported by Cadw and logistically administered by the National Museum Wales.

University of Bristol

Header Image Credit : University of Bristol

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Archaeologists search crash site of WWII B-17 for lost pilot

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology are excavating the crash site of a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress in an English woodland.

Roman Era tomb found guarded by carved bull heads

Archaeologists excavating at the ancient Tharsa necropolis have uncovered a Roman Era tomb guarded by two carved bull heads.

Revolutionary war barracks discovered at Colonial Williamsburg

Archaeologists excavating at Colonial Williamsburg have discovered a barracks for soldiers of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence.

Pleistocene hunter-gatherers settled in Cyprus thousands of years earlier than previously thought

Archaeologists have found that Pleistocene hunter-gatherers settled in Cyprus thousands of years earlier than previously thought.

Groundbreaking study reveals new insights into chosen locations of pyramids’ sites

A groundbreaking study, published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment, has revealed why the largest concentration of pyramids in Egypt were built along a narrow desert strip.

Soldiers’ graffiti depicting hangings found on door at Dover Castle

Conservation of a Georgian door at Dover Castle has revealed etchings depicting hangings and graffiti from time of French Revolution.

Archaeologists find Roman villa with ornate indoor plunge pool

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Cultural Heritage have uncovered a Roman villa with an indoor plunge pool during excavations at the port city of Durrës, Albania.

Archaeologists excavate medieval timber hall

Archaeologists from the University of York have returned to Skipsea in East Yorkshire, England, to excavate the remains of a medieval timber hall.