Exhibition Objects

Welcome to Exploring Objects. Here you can explore the rich collection of objects that have been unearthed from the Creswell Heritage Area. To find an object, type in the words that best describe what you are looking for and click ‘Search’

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Trimming flakes © 2000 Sheffield Galleries & Museums Trust

Trimming flakes

Middle Palaeolithic waste material from sharpening a handaxe from Ash Tree Cave. 60,000-40,000 years old. Made of clay-ironstone

These flakes of clay-ironstone were excavated from Ash Tree Cave, near Whitwell, Derbyshire, by members of the Hunter Archaeological Society in 1959, directed by Derrick Riley and Stanley West. The flakes, out of a total of fourteen excavated from the cave, were produced during the manufacture, thinning or sharpening of a handaxe (biface). Handaxes were most probably used as tools for butchering animal carcasses and examples of clay-ironstone handaxes are known from Robin Hood Cave and recorded from Mother Grundy’s Parlour, both in Creswell Crags. These flakes were made sometime between 60,000 and 40,000 years ago.

Ash Tree Cave is only 2.6 km north-west of Creswell Crags and it is not impossible that the people using this cave were the same as those who left the clay-ironstone handaxes at the Crags. However, attempts to refit the flakes to the handaxes from Robin Hood Cave were not successful and so the link remains conjectural. The handaxes, and by definition these flakes, are thought to be Middle Palaeolithic and made by Neanderthals during the middle of the Last Cold Stage. These ironstone flakes were found in what was described by the excavation as a stony cave-earth. The cave-earth lay above a clay which contained a fauna resembling that for Steetley Wood cave. This clay was without evidence for human activity.

Glossary: Anatomically modern humans, Artefact, Assemblage, Backing, Biface, Blade, Bronze Age, Carbonate, Cave-earth, Clay-ironstone, Cordiform, Core, Cortex, Creswellian, Culture, Debitage, Early Upper Palaeolithic, Flake, Flake tool, Glacial, Hafting, Handaxe, Ice Age, Interglacial, Last Cold Stage, Late Upper Palaeolithic, Middle Palaeolithic, Neanderthal, Palaeolithic, Pleistocene, Retouch, Sediment, Tool, Upper Palaeolithic