Studying the finds
- Nick Ashton, Department of Prehistory and Europe, British Museum
- Simon Parfitt, Natural History Museum
- Dr Simon Lewis, Queen Mary University of London
- Natural History Museum
- Queen Mary University of London
- Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project
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Between 2005 and 2010, about 80 flint tools were excavated from Site 3 at Happisburgh. Examples of these artefacts are shown here.
Among the finds are cores, flakes and flake tools, with no evidence of handaxe manufacture. Many of the artefacts are fresh and unabraded, suggesting they were discarded at or near the site and that they have undergone very limited fluvial transport.
The stone discoveries are dominated by large flakes (up to 14.5 cm), detached from a core with a hard hammer (such as a rounded pebble). A few display signs of further working (retouch).
The focus on straight unretouched edges suggests that the flakes were used for cutting, possibly during butchery or other food-processing tasks. Flake tools (retouched flakes, notches and scrapers) include pieces that could have been used to work wood, skins or other organic materials, but these interpretations are speculative as no humanly-modified bones or wood have been found.
The unusual size-range, together with the high proportion of flake tools, suggests the artefacts have been selected and brought into the area for use but manufactured elsewhere. The presence of artefacts at several levels in the succession indicates repeated visits to the site, perhaps reflecting a sustained presence in the area.
Happisburgh Artefacts in 3D
Cutting-edge CT scanning and digital technology has been used to create virtual, three-dimensional (3D) models of stone tools found at Happisburgh.
This pioneering work has been undertaken by Richie Abel at the Natural History Museum using a Micro-CT scanner. This provides the most detailed means of recording and illustrating the artefacts and allows study of the artefacts around the world.
The machine used is the Metris X-Tek HMXST CT system housed in the Electron Microscope and Microanalysis Unit at the Natural History Museum.
The 3D topography of an object can be highlighted by using a stereo-anaglyph, like the one shown here. Anaglyph images and movies are used to provide a stereoscopic 3D effect when viewed with red-cyan spectacles.