Exhibition Objects

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Beaver leg bone © 2000 Creswell Heritage Trust

Beaver leg bone

Bone from Dog Hole Fissure. Early Post Glacial/Mesolithic, 10,000 years old.

This right back leg bone (femur) of an immature beaver ( Castor fiber) was excavated from Dog Hole Fissure by Rogan Jenkinson in 1978. The fissure was exposed due to a rock fall close to the cave of Dog Hole. Although not directly dated, this beaver is likely to date to the Mesolithic judging from the total fauna excavated at Dog Hole Fissure. It is unknown how the bone came to be introduced into the fissure. People may have been responsible.

Beavers are the largest of the Old World rodents. European beavers live in underground holes with an underwater entrance or, more rarely, in timber lodges with an escape tunnel down to the water. Both are intended to provide a safe winter home with a store of food under the winter ice. Water levels may be maintained by a dam. At one time beavers inhabited most forested areas of the Northern Hemisphere, but their numbers have dwindled due to the pressure of hunting for their pelts and the loss of forested habitats. A beaver colony usually consists of a single family. The fact that this bone is from an immature animal suggests that such a colony may have been living close by. If the stream passing through the gorge was dammed, the Crags may not have looked very different from the present day with a lake between the cliffs.

Glossary: Anatomically modern humans, Artefact, Assemblage, Backed blade, Backing, Biface, Blade, Bronze Age, Cordiform, Core, Cortex, Creswellian, Culture, Debitage, Devensian, Early Upper Palaeolithic, Fissure, Flake, Flake tool, Glacial, Habitat, Hafting, Handaxe, Holocene, Ice Age, Interglacial, Late Upper Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Middle Palaeolithic, Neanderthal, Palaeolithic, Pleistocene, Retouch, Tool, Upper Palaeolithic