Don’t you just love it when amazing historical artefacts are found by chance, for example the recent discovery of a vast wall of animal paintings lost for millennia in the Amazon Rain Forest of Columbia, or the exquisite mosaic floor of a well to do Roman five feet below a modern-day Italian vineyard, or even these quite remarkable Neolithic leaf-arrowheads discovered by Joanie recently on the bank of a stream I have been walking for forty years. The luck of a beginner I say, but I did know that similar flint weapons have been found in the area by a good friend of mine, and usually after a harsh winter with ice-and snow melt, or a sudden torrential downpour uncovers the hiding place. And just to prove my point, this bronze figurine of a bull, believed to be at least 2,500 years old, has just been unearthed in Greece following heavy rain near the ancient site of Olympia. Thank you, Zeus, for the perfect timing (see what I did there?).
As for Joanie’s find, common sense dictates that we do not give the exact location away for the arrowheads, but I have alerted the relevant authorities, who will add the information to their data base. I will make a small exception, and if anyone recognises the last of a long line of cats-eyes, you will be warm! The symmetrical pieces of flint have been shaped intentionally around 5,000 years ago, worked so that they tapered to a sharp point. In those days, there would have been plenty of wild animals to fire your arrows at, including brown bear, wild boar and red deer. The Head of the Wood, now Woodhead with hardly any trees, was once thickly wooded. Around this time, new farming techniques were brought over from the continent, and before too long iron and bronze would render the flints redundant. The flints were also brought in from somewhere else, as there is no flint locally, and points to flourishing trade and travel, and to some wonderful stories of barter-commerce and coincidence. My two favourites involve the so-called axe-factories, places where suitable stones were manufactured in situ and sent off around the UK, Ireland and Europe. Firstly, the axe factory on Rathlin Island, off the Antrim Coast, where large numbers of flint tools and porcellanite axe heads were made, and then discovered in the past hundred years as far away as Cornwall and France. Fascinating how that trade took place, and then, there’s my tale of a green tuff axe head from the axe factory on the slopes of Langdale, in the English Lake District where my band used to play every month for two decades, and was found only eight years ago as a farmer ploughed his field in the North of County Clare, a matter of five miles from another of the Curragh Sons strongholds of Kinvara. Oh, to hear the provenance of that weapon.
Before anyone gets on my case, I am not handing Joanie’s arrowheads in, as I know of several examples of wonderful finds in Longdendale, which were methodically recorded and handed over to the Authorities and never seen again, including an iron age hoard discovered in the 1940’s and, believe it or not, a dinosaur footprint from Valehouse Reservoir. The ‘hoard’ was said to have been deposited in Huddersfield Museum, where I found no trace, and the footprint has ‘trotted off’, lost forever in a dusty vault or someone’s back yard. Unless of course any reader knows different. We won’t tell, honest.
Thankfully the eight-mile painted rock walls in the Amazon, which were created up to 12,500 years ago at Serranía La Lindosa, have not been, got at, by any latter-day Banksy’s and are pristine. There are drawings of deer, tapirs, alligators, bats, monkeys, turtles, serpents, and porcupines, as well as Ice Age megafauna, including the long extinct mastodons, camelids, ungulates with trunks, and giant sloths.
Dr Mark Robinson of the University of Exeter, who was part of the research team, stated: “These really are incredible images, produced by the earliest people to live in western Amazonia. It is unbelievable to us today to think they lived among, and hunted, giant herbivores, some which were the size of a small car.”
And finally, what of the Roman mosaic, well I can think of no finer thing than to toast these past masters with a bottle of red, Salut.