History of Henry Wellcome's unique collection, £19.99
Length: 7.300 cm
Presented by the Creswell Caves Exploration Committee
P&EE Christy Collection +8164 (Sieveking Catalogue no. 855)
Horse engraving on bone
Late Upper Palaeolithic, about 12,500 years old
From Robin Hood Cave, Derbyshire, England
A unique representation of an animal
The horse from Robin Hood Cave is the only piece of Upper Palaeolithic art showing an animal known from Britain. It has been drawn on a fragment of rib, one end of which has been neatly cut. The other end has an ancient break. The horse faces right and is carefully drawn. The line of its mane is shown along the top edge of the rib as a series of diagonal hachured (hatched) lines. The head and neck are clearly outlined. Single vertical lines have been drawn over the horse. These may represent spears or fence posts, perhaps used in driving animals to a kill site. The deeply scored horizontal lines behind and over the horse were drawn last. Similar more curved diagonal lines cover the opposite side.
There seems no reason to doubt that this fine drawing was a genuine find from Robin Hood Cave. It is closely similar to drawings known from French Late Magdalenian sites where such works of art are much more common. It is even possible it was brought to Britain by hunters tracking animals to summer feeding grounds and leaving at the end of the season.
A. Sieveking, A catalogue of Palaeolithic ar (London, The British Museum Press, 1987)