Glastonbury Abbey Symposium 9 June 2011 Abbey Shield

Prehistoric flint tools, summarised from specialist report by Dr Tim Phillips

Archaeology Department, University of Reading

A total of thirty-seven prehistoric lithics were retained from the Glastonbury Abbey excavations (thirty-five flint and two chert). The assemblage is dominated by waste flakes but there are also a number of amorphous 'chunks' and blades, as well as four cores. This indicates a strong earlier Mesolithic composition, as well as an Early Neolithic element.

The presence of Early Mesolithic foragers within the region has long been known from lithic scatters on sandy islands across the Somerset Levels. More recently, the fieldwalking carried out by the Shapwick project, has shown that activity in the earlier Mesolithic was considerably more widespread than previously recognised. Although it cannot be demonstrated for certain that Glastonbury material was deposited on the site in prehistory, the topographic location of the abbey is not untypical of some of the locations of earlier Mesolithic activity in this area. Significantly, a small assemblage of Mesolithic flints composed of blades and cores were found by Philip Rahtz at the natural spring of Chalice Well. The small number of diagnostic artefacts from the Neolithic period do not allow for any meaningful interpretation.