‘Remarkable’ discovery of 6,000-year-old wood carvings in UK | UK News

A stumbled piece of carved wood is more than 6,000 years old, making it the oldest of its kind in Britain, experts say.

These decorative markers were made by Late Mesolithic people 2,000 years before Stonehenge was built and 4,500 years before the Romans came to Britain.

The one-metre piece of oak was found lying in peat during the construction of an outbuilding on a property in the village of Boxford Berkshire.

It was found about 1.5 meters below the surface, not far from the current course of the Lambourn River.

Historic England has dated specimens to the Late Mesolithic (4640-4605 BC).

Experts believe it is 500 years older than Britain’s only known Mesolithic carved wood, found near Maerdy in Wales.

The purpose of the markings on the wood is unclear, but they appear to be similar to decorations on Early Neolithic pottery.

Embargoed until Wednesday June 0001: Britain's oldest decorative wood carvings, bearing marks made by Upper Mesolithic people more than 6,000 years ago.Photo: England with a long history
The carved wood was found in a layer of peat.Photo: England with a long history

Peat is able to preserve organic materials such as wood for thousands of years because the lack of oxygen in the peat slows down the normal decay process.

The timber was removed and cleared later in the day to find some unnatural-looking markings.

“exciting discovery”

The markings on the wood are thought to be similar to the body decorations on the Shigir Idol – a 12,500-year-old wooden sculpture found in the Ural Mountains of Russia, the Shigir Idol is believed to be the oldest example of wood carving in the world.

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said the discovery was “remarkable”.

“This exciting discovery has helped rediscover our distant past, and we are grateful to landowners for recognizing its importance,” he said.

“Striking discoveries like this remind us of the power of archeology to reveal hidden stories that connect us to our roots.”

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After learning of the discovery in 2019, West Berkshire Council archaeologist Sarah Orr contacted Historic England for expert advice.

Landowner Derek Fawcett, a retired urological surgeon, has donated the wood to the West Berkshire Museum in Newbury, where it will eventually be exhibited.

The museum is also working with the Boxford History Project to arrange for the timber to be loaned to the Boxford Village Heritage Centre.

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