Posts Tagged ‘The Roveries’

Neolithic Oswestry – Week 30 of the Oswestry Heritage Comics

New Year – new tools!

Neolithic is often translated by archaeologists as “New Stone Age”. But this phrase misses out the important idea that what is significant here is that archaeologists are talking about new stone tools – one of the things that made the neolithic way of life possible was the neolithic stone axe. This new tool enabled neolithic people to fell the old forests of Europe, and till the newly-cleared soil. The settlements and fields – as well as the culture and society – of neolithic Britain were shaped by this new stone technology.

We shouldn’t think of the axe on display in Oswestry Library as just a tool – we should also think of it as a key: a key to an entirely new way of living for our stone-age ancestors. The neolithic is the time in human history when we stopped living just by hunting and gathering – following herds with the seasons – and started to live year-round in the same place: planting crops and raising flocks of domesticated sheep, goats and cattle. As well as new stone tools, the neolithic was about new ideas – agriculture, domestication and permanent settlements.

Direct evidence for these neolithic settlements in and around Oswestry tends to be on higher ground; it is thought that much of lowland Shropshire was still heavily-wooded and marshy. Archaeologists have found fragments of neolithic pottery at Grinshill and the Roveries, and even on the top of Old Oswestry. The Long Mynd and other Shropshire ridges may have been used as routeways – as people began to live in more permanent settlements, so roads and routes between them became more important. But this evidence is scant.

That’s why finds like the axe in Oswestry Library are so important: we can learn a lot from every stone tool, no matter how small or broken. Imagine how much more we could know about the past if more people were helping add to our knowledge of the past by identifying neolithic stone tools while out watching birds or ploughing fields: farmers, ramblers, dog-walkers, bird-spotters – in fact, people like you.


The Oswestry Heritage Comics are a year-long series of weekly newspaper comic strips about the archaeology, history and heritage of the area around Oswestry, Shropshire in the UK. The comics are published in the Oswestry and Border Counties Advertizer every Tuesday, and on Facebook. The project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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