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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Handaxe © 2000 The British Museum


Middle Palaeolithic tool from Robin Hood Cave, 60,000 - 40,000 years old. Made of clay-ironstone

Handaxe of clay-ironstone made sometime between 60,000 and 40,000 years ago and found in Robin Hood Cave during the 1876 excavation. Handaxes like these were most probably used as tools for butchering animal carcasses.

The clay-ironstone for this handaxe, or cordiform (heart-shaped) biface, may have been collected locally to Creswell Crags either from soils in the exposed coalfield to the west or from glacial till derived from the Coal Measures. Nodules of clay-ironstone, which have been picked up as close to Creswell Crags as Elmton, can occur in the form of flattened spheres temptingly shaped for the manufacture of handaxes. Like flint, clay-ironstone is sufficiently fine grained and can be knapped producing conchoidal fractures. However, the material is softer than flint and the effectiveness of tools made from it may have been limited and requiring frequent resharpening. The handaxe is thought to be Middle Palaeolithic and was possibly part of a tool kit used by Neanderthals.

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