Were these flints left behind by the first Lynners after they colonised West Norfolk 5,000 years ago..?
Archant © 2013
It hardly seems like the cradle of prehistoric civilisation - tucked away in a field behind the dyke, around the corner from the Tesco garage, the hairdresser’s and the chinese takeaway.
Yet this most mundane of settings on the urban fringe has thrown up tantalising traces of some of the earliest people to settle in what we now call King’s Lynn.
Archaeologists believe fragments of burnt flint and charcoal, uncovered off Queen Elizabeth Avenue, in Gaywood, could date back around 5,000 years or more. Dr Clive Bond, director of the Gaywood Valley Archaeological and Historical Project, said the items were found near to where the earliest evidence of human occupation in the Gaywood Valley had been uncovered.
“Just off King’s Reach, Fairstead, there was a single flint handaxe that is circa 400,000 BC,” he said. “This was found in a ploughed field.
“However, our finds this weekend are equally important, if not more so.”
Dr Bond said the flint, which had been worked and burned, was dropped on the sandy riverside in the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, between 2,900 and 1,600 BC.
The Gaywood River, a narrow, shallow dyke for much of its length today, was then part of a larger estuary. Ancient people gathered on its banks, lighting fires where they burned flint, before using the hot stones to heat water or possibly even in primitive sweat lodges.
“This is highly significant as we have recovered stratified burnt flint in a small test pit and this would suggest a level of intensive activity over the slope,” said Dr Bond.
“This is indicative of repeated and regular communal meetings, perhaps occupations beside the river for a few centuries over successive seasons.”
The digs off Queen Elizabeth Avenue were two of a number carried out over the weekend.
Roman remains were found in a number of locations on the Marsh Lane estate and around Lynnsport on Saturday.
The lottery-funded community project was set up to find out more about the history of the Gaywood Valley.
An archaeological weekend is planned for the weekend of June 15/16, at Grimston.