Ancient Brits were carving reindeer art 15,000 years ago

Illustration for article titled Ancient Brits were carving reindeer art 15,000 years ago

This carving may not look like much, but it's possibly the oldest art ever found in Britain. The rock art appears to depict a reindeer with a spear sticking out of it. Hunter-gathers did tend to carve what they knew.


Although its precise location is currently being kept secret, we know that the carving was discovered in a cave in Wales's Gower Peninsula. The carving was discovered by Dr. George Nash, an archaeologist affiliated with the University of Bristol. In a statement, Nash explains the find and its probable age:

Although the characteristics of the reindeer drawing match many found in northern Europe around 4,000-5,000 years later, the discovery of flint tools in the cave in the 1950s could hold the key to the engraving's true date. In the 1950s, Cambridge University undertook an excavation there and found 300-400 pieces of flint and dated the occupation of the cave to between 12,000-14,000 BC. This drawing appears to have engraved by an artist using his or her right hand as the panel on which it is carved is located in a very tight niche. Colleagues in England have been doing some work in Nottinghamshire at Creswell Crags and got very nice dates for a red deer and one or two other images of around 12,000-14,000 BC. I think this [newly found carving] may be roughly the same period or may be even slightly earlier.


This art is a reminder that, even during periods of prolonged cold and ice, humans did eke out a living in far northern areas like the British Isles. Nash expands on that point:

We know from the glacial geology of the area this was an open area just before the ice limit came down from the glaciers between 15,000-30,000 years ago and it stopped just about two kilometres short of the cave site. We know hunter-fisher-gatherers were roaming around this landscape, albeit seasonally, and they were burying their dead 30,000 years ago and making their mark through artistic endeavour at this time when it was until recently considered Britain was an uninhabited land of ice.

Via the University of Bristol.

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Can some someone do that constellation thing where they outline the random grouping of marks or stars and make it apparent to me what they are talking about? Where is the reindeer?