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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Awls © 2000 The British Museum


Awls from Church Hole made on bones from the lower back legs of arctic hare. Upper Palaeolithic tools, 12,500 years old.

These awls are made from the left and right back leg bones (tibiae) of arctic hare (Lepus timidus). They are likely to have been used for piercing animal hide during the manufacture of clothing or other leather objects. Both were found in Church Hole, Creswell Crags, during the excavation by Mello, Heath and Dawkins in 1876. An estimated age of both artefacts is 12,500 years old.

The shape and size of arctic hare tibiae and the form of their proximal ends made these bones ideal to manipulate as an awl once the distal end had been scraped to a point. The awl on the left (+8168) is missing its proximal end while that on the right (+8169) has lost its slender tip, a break which occurred after the object was sketched for the Slip Catalogue to the Christy collection in 1878. Part of an identical awl, found in 1969 in the spoil heap from the 19th century excavation of Robin Hood Cave, has been radiocarbon dated to 12,580 ± 110 BP (OxA-3416) placing these tools within the Later Upper Palaeolithic as part of the Creswellian culture.

Glossary: Anatomically modern humans, Artefact, Assemblage, Awl, Backing, Biface, Blade, Bronze Age, Butt, Cordiform, Core, Cortex, Creswellian, Culture, Debitage, Distal, Early Upper Palaeolithic, Flake, Flake tool, Glacial, Hafting, Handaxe, Ice Age, Interglacial, Late Upper Palaeolithic, Middle Palaeolithic, Neanderthal, Palaeolithic, Pleistocene, Proximal, Radiocarbon, Retouch, Striking platform, Tool, Upper Palaeolithic