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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site

 

Studying the finds

Project team

Supported by

  • 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.

Multiple notch on a hard-hammer flake
  • Multiple notch on a hard-hammer flake (Find number: HSB 2006.1026). Photograph: Phil Crabb, Natural History Museum, London.

  • The other side of the hard-hammer flake (Find number: HSB 2006.1026). Photograph: Phil Crabb, Natural History Museum, London.

  • Hard hammer flake with retouch, showing pronounced point of percussion on plain butt (Find number: HSB 2007.3). Photograph: Phil Crabb, Natural History Museum, London.

  • Retouched flake, showing features that distinguish humanly-struck flakes from natural shatter (Find number: HSB 2007.13). Photograph: Phil Crabb, Natural History Museum, London.

  • CT scans of stone tools

  • 3D rendering of a stone tool

Multiple notch on a hard-hammer flake (Find number: HSB 2006.1026). Photograph: Phil Crabb, Natural History Museum, London.

 

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.

More information about Micro-CT at the Natural History Museum