Decades of research by a retired Surrey fireman have been rewarded with incredible Ice Age finds
Combing just an inch below the surface of the proposed new home for a new Guildford fire station, archaeologists have found more than 2,400 shaped flint tools and blades in excellent condition.
© Surrey County Council
The artefacts, left by hunter-gatherers and unaffected by the regular rumble of fire engines on the road above them have been dug up by Surrey County Council following 40 years of research by retired local fireman Ron Shettle.
“Basically during the first evaluations of the site we came across prehistoric struck flint – we’re talking anywhere between 12,000 and 14,000 years ago,” said William Mills, of Oxford Archaeology.
“This is particularly interesting. Most of the time we find it in caves or in very disturbed environments, whereas here it’s a very fine sand deposit, and therefore it hasn’t moved much.
“The actual material that’s coming out looks as if it was struck yesterday.”
“What is wonderful is that we have quite an extensive area and we’re starting to identify certain locations where there were higher concentrations of lithics and tool production. Hopefully future research will give us more insight into these.”
Academics at Oxford University will examine the flints, which are expected to be partly displayed at the Surrey History Centre in Woking, once the archaeologists have drawn their own conclusions.
“In Europe there are a handful of sites – not very many – and in England, well, this is one amongst two, maybe three, if that, of this quality,” explained Mills.
“That’s what makes this quite extraordinary.”
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Shettle said he expected the report to take between six months and six years to be published.
“They had better get a move on or I won't be around to see it,” warned the 88-year-old.
“But obviously I was thrilled."
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