The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Length: 25.300 cm
Bequeathed by Beaumont Morfitt
P&EE 1929 12-19 1
Prehistory and Europe
Barbed bone spear point
Late Glacial period, about 10,000 years old
From the site of Hornsea gasworks, East Yorkshire, England
This point was made from a long splinter of bone, and would have been used as a strong and deadly tip for a spear. The straight piece of bone shows the toolmarks left by the flint tool used to scrape it into shape. Thin curls of bone have been cut off the bottom to thin and flatten it to fit into a spear shaft. This thinned base is also marked with diagonal incisions. These roughened the surface in order that the glue and thread used to fix the tip to the shaft would grip better. One side of the point is armed with eleven small barbs formed by the cutting of small notches. Such barbed edges gripped the flesh of the wound, preventing the spear from falling out if the animal tried to run away.
This type of spear was used at the very end of the last Ice Age in Britain. They were designed to hunt large animals such as elk and red deer. They reflect a change in both hunting techniques and prey as the climate warmed up.