The Ancient Stone Implements, Weapons, and Ornaments of Great Britain/Chapter 13



One of the simple forms into which flakes are susceptible of being readily converted has, in consequence of its similarity in character to a stone implement in use among the Eskimos for scraping skins and other purposes, received the name of a "scraper," or to use the term first I believe employed by the late M. E. Lartet, a grattoir. A typical scraper may be defined as a broad flake, the end of which has been chipped to a semicircular bevelled edge round the margin of the inner face, similar in character to that of a "round-nosed turning chisel."

Fig. 203.—Eskimo Scraper.

A very good specimen of an Eskimo scraper of flint, mounted in a handle of fossil ivory, is in the Christy Collection, and has been engraved for the "Reliquiæ Aquitanicæ."[1] For the loan of the woodcut. Fig. 203, there given, I am indebted to the representatives of the late Mr. Christy. Sometimes the hafts are of wood, and they have frequently indentations intended to receive the ends of the fingers and thumb, so as to secure a good grasp. In the collection of Sir John Lubbock is another specimen much like Fig. 203, with a flint blade almost like a lance-head in character, but with the more pointed end inserted in the handle; there is also another short straight-sided blade of jade bound in a wooden haft, which is notched along one side to receive the fingers, and recessed on the face for the thumb. This latter seems, well adapted for use as a knife or chisel; in fact, Sir John Lubbock, who has figured the instruments in his "Prehistoric Times,"[2] terms them both knives. Another example has been engraved by the Rev. J. G. Wood.[3]

These instruments are said to be used for scraping skins,[4] for which indeed they seem well suited, if the flat face of the stone be held vertically to the hide that is to be scraped. The handles, however, are better adapted for pushing the scrapers forward on a flat surface, and judging from the wear upon them they must have been so used. The late Sir Edward Belcher[5] has described them as Eskimo planes, for the manufacture of bows and other articles of wood, but in this respect he may have been mistaken.

The scrapers in use among the Fuegians[6] are drawn towards the operator and not pushed. Some North American varieties are mounted after the manner of adzes.[7] Mr. Otis T. Mason in his Paper "on Aboriginal skin-dressing" has exhaustively treated the subject.

A form of Skin-scraper, straight at the edge, was in use among the Pennacook tribe[8] of North America, and though some of the Eskimo instruments may have been used as planes, no doubt many were employed in dressing hides. A peculiar form in use among the Gallas[9] of Southern Shoa has been figured by Giglioli,[10] who has also recorded the fact that flat scrapers of stone are still in use in Italy and France for dressing hides.

Whether the instruments were used vertically as scrapers, or horizontally as planes, the term "scrapers" seems almost equally applicable to them; and there appears no valid reason why, for the sake of convenience, the same term should not be extended to their ancient analogues, especially as their edges, as will subsequently be seen, are in many cases worn away in a manner indicative of their having been used for scraping.

The names of "thumb-flints" and "finger-flints" which have sometimes been applied to the shorter and longer varieties of these instruments, though colloquially convenient, appear to me not sufficiently definite in meaning to be worthy of being retained.

Scrapers may be classified and described—firstly, in accordance with the character of the flakes from which they have been made; and, secondly, in accordance with the outline of the portion of the margin which has been chipped into form, and the general contour of the implement.

Their outline is in some cases horseshoe-shaped or kite-shaped, in others it is discoidal or nearly circular, and in others again it may be compared with that of a duck's bill or of an oyster-shell. To these may be added side-scrapers, or such as are broader than they are long, and the hollow scrapers with a rounded notch in them instead of a semicircular end.

Fig. 204.—Weaverthorpe.

When the flakes have been chipped into the scraper form at both ends they may be termed double-ended scrapers—to which class circular scrapers also belong; where a sort of handle has been worked they may be termed spoon-shaped, and where the butt has been chipped to a sharp chisel-edge, at right angles to the flat face, they have been called tanged scrapers.

In speaking of the sides as right or left, I do it with reference to the flat face of the scraper, as shown in the first of the three views of Fig. 204.

It will be well to pass some of the forms in review before entering into any more general considerations.

The figures are all of full size, Fig. 204, from Weaverthorpe, on the Yorkshire Wolds, is a good example of a symmetrical horseshoe-shaped scraper. It is made from a broad flat flake, of rather pink flint, with the point chipped to a neat semicircular bevelled edge, and one of the sides trimmed so as to correspond with the other. The bulb of percussion visible on the flat face and side views has been slightly splintered by the blow. It gives a graceful ogee curve to the face longitudinally, which brings forward the scraping or cutting edge at the end. In the centre this is slightly rounded and worn away by use.

I have other specimens almost identical in form from other parts of the Yorkshire Wolds, from Suffolk, Sussex, and Dorsetshire. They are abundantly found of smaller dimensions, and occasionally of larger, sometimes as much as 21/2 inches in diameter.

Fig. 205.—Sussex Downs.

Fig. 205 shows another horseshoe-shaped scraper, which has become white and grey by exposure. I picked it up on the Downs near Berling Gap, on the Sussex coast, a few miles west of Eastbourne; a district so prolific, that I have there found as many as twenty of these instruments, of various degrees of perfection, within an hour. In this case the scraper has been made from a broad ridged flake, and it will be observed that not only the end but one of the sides has been carefully trimmed, while the other has been left untouched, and has, moreover, a flat facet on it, as shown in the side view. It would appear from this that probably the side as well as the end was used for scraping purposes, that whoever used it was right-handed and not left-handed, and, moreover, that it is doubtful whether the implement was ever inserted in a handle, at all events at the butt-end. I have a nearly similar specimen, but trimmed at the end only, which I found in the vallum of the camp of Poundbury, near Dorchester, Dorset. I have smaller instruments of the same form which I have found on the surface of the ground at Abbot's Langley, Herts; at Oundle, Northamptonshire; and in the ancient encampment of Maiden Bower, near Dunstable. Large scrapers are abundant in some parts of Suffolk.

The form is of common occurrence in Yorkshire, in all sizes from 21/2 inches to one inch in length. To show the great range in size, and the variations in the relative thickness of the instruments, I have engraved, in Fig. 206, a small specimen from the Yorkshire Wolds.

Fig. 206.—Yorkshire.

When the chipping to an edge is continued beyond a semicircle, in the case of scrapers made from broad short flakes, an almost circular instrument is the result. These discoidal scrapers are of extremely common occurrence on the Yorkshire Wolds. Fig. 207 shows a specimen from Helperthorpe.

Fig. 207—Helperthorpe.

They are not unfrequently formed from external flakes or splinters, and are sometimes made from fragments broken from long flakes, inasmuch as there is no bulb of percussion on the flat face. In rare cases the flat face is the result of a natural fracture, and, more rarely still, it is the external face of a flint nodule.

When the instrument is broader than it is long, it has been termed a side scraper. One in what is now white flint, made from a portion of a flake, and showing no bulb on the flat face, is engraved in Fig. 208. It was found at Weaverthorpe. Occasionally the arc is flatter and longer in proportion to the height than in this instance.

Fig. 208.—Weaverthorpe.

Fig. 209 may be called a long horseshoe-shaped scraper. It has been made from a thick flat flake, which there had evidently been some difficulty in shaping, as at least two blows had failed of their desired effect before the flake was finally dislodged. The back of the scraper is disfigured by the marks of the abortive flakes produced by these two blows. The end, and part of the right side are neatly trimmed into form. This specimen also I found on the Sussex Downs, near Berling Gap.

Fig. 209.—Sussex Downs.

The implements of this form are often neatly chipped along both sides as well as at the end. An example of the kind is given in Fig. 210, the original of which is in milky chalcedonic flint, and was found on the Yorkshire Wolds.

Fig. 210.—Yorkshire. Fig. 211.—Yorkshire Wolds.

Fig. 211 shows another specimen from the Yorkshire Wolds. It is made from a flat flake, considerably curved longitudinally, and trimmed at the end as well as along a small portion of the left side. Some are more oval in form, and have been chipped along the sides, and somewhat rounded at the butt. In several instances the chipped edge at the butt-end is slightly worn away by friction, the edge of the rounded end being unworn.

Fig. 212.—Yorkshire Wolds. Fig. 213.—Sussex Downs.

Fig. 212 gives a kite-shaped scraper from Yorkshire, also made from a flat flake, but showing a considerable extent of the original crust of the flint of which it was made. It comes almost to a point at the butt-end, and both edges are somewhat chipped away as if the instrument had at that end been used as a boring tool. The point is somewhat rounded by friction. Occasionally, scrapers of this form are chipped on both faces at the pointed base, so as to make them closely resemble arrow-heads. It seems possible that this pointing was for the purpose of hafting the tool more readily in wood.

Fig. 214.—Yorkshire Wolds.

Fig. 213 shows one of what may be termed the duck-bill scrapers. It is made from a flat flake as usual, somewhat curved, and showing all along one side the original crust of the flint. It is neatly worked to a semicircular edge at the end, but the sides are left entirely untouched. I found it on the Sussex Downs, near Cuckmare Haven.

A smaller analogous instrument, from the Yorkshire Wolds, is shown in Fig. 214. It is made from an external flake, struck from a nodule of flint of small diameter. The end alone is trimmed. Scrapers made from such external flakes and splinters of flint are by no means uncommon. I have one which appears to have been made from a splinter of a hammer-stone—a portion of the surface being bruised all over.

In Fig. 215 is shown another duck-bill scraper, with parallel sides, found by myself on the Sussex Downs, near Berling Gap. It is a thick instrument, with both sides and end trimmed into form, the flake from which it is made having in all probability been originally much broader, and more circular. The bulb of percussion is not in the middle of the butt, but within three-eighths of an inch of the left side.

Fig. 215.—Sussex Downs.

Another form of these instruments is not unlike the flat valve of an oyster shell, being usually somewhat unsymmetrical either to the right or to the left. A specimen of this class from the Downs, near Berling Gap, is shown in Fig. 216. The end is neatly chipped to an almost elliptical sweep, but the sides in this instance are left untrimmed; the right side shown in the side view being flat and almost square with the face. In some instances the trimming of the sides extends all the way round to the butt.

Occasionally, though rarely, one of the sides, either right or left, is trimmed in such a manner that its more or less straight edge meets the curved edge of the end at an angle, so as to form an obtuse point. An example of this kind is shown in Fig. 217, from the Downs, near Berling Gap. This instrument is made from an external splinter of flint, the edge at the end and front of one side alone being carefully chipped into shape. It approaches in form to the grattoir-bec[11] of French antiquaries.

In most scrapers the bulb of percussion of the flake from which they have been made is, as has already been said, at the opposite end to that which has been trimmed to form the curved edge; but this is by no means universally the case, for sometimes the bulb is at the side of the scraper, and sometimes, though more rarely, it has been at the end which has been worked to the scraper edge.

It seems needless to engrave examples of these varieties, which are only indicative of the manufacturers of the implements having made use of that part of the piece of flint which seemed best adapted to

Fig. 216.—Sussex Downs.

be chipped into the form they required. For the same reason we find scrapers of an endless variety of forms, some of them exceedingly

Fig. 217.—Sussex Downs.

irregular, as any one who has examined a series from the Yorkshire Wolds will know. I have not, however, thought it necessary to give representations of all these minor varieties, as even more than enough are engraved to show the general character of the instruments. It is perhaps worth mentioning, that the flakes selected for conversion into scrapers are usually such as expand in width at the point. It is doubtful whether the long narrow flakes worked to a scraper-like termination at one or both ends properly come under the category of scrapers. I shall consequently treat of them under the head of wrought flakes.

Fig. 218.—Bridlington. Fig. 219.—Bridlington.

I must now pass on to the consideration of the forms showing a greater extent of trimming at the edge than those hitherto described. Of these the double-ended scrapers, or those presenting a semicircular edge at either end, first demand notice. They are of by no means common occurrence. Those I have seen have been for the most part found in Yorkshire and Suffolk. Fig. 218 exhibits a specimen from. Bridlington. As is not unfrequently the case, it is rather thinner at the end nearest to what was the butt-end of the flake. The sides are left almost untrimmed, but each end is worked to a nearly semicircular curve. In the Greenwell Collection is a specimen from one of the barrows at Rudstone; as well as a large one from Lakenheath, and others from Suffolk. Occasionally the length and breadth are so nearly the same, that the scraper assumes the form of a disc, with sharp edges—a kind of plano-convex lens. A specimen of this form from Bridlington is shown in Fig. 219. It is, however, exceptionally regular in form. I have another smaller specimen, not quite so circular or so well chipped, which I found on the Downs between Newhaven and Brighton, and I have others from Suffolk. Such a form was probably not intended for insertion in a haft.

Fig. 220.—Yorkshire Wolds.

Sometimes, where the scraper has been made from a flat flake, the trimmed edge curves slightly inwards at one part, so as to produce a sort of ear-shaped form. I have such, both with the inward curve on the left side, as shown in Fig. 220, and also with it on the right side.

A deeply-notched tool, to which the name of hollow scraper has been applied, will be subsequently mentioned.[12]

There are some scrapers which at the butt-end of the flake are chipped into what has the appearance of being a kind of handle, somewhat like that of a short spoon. That engraved in Fig. 221 is from the Yorkshire Wolds, and is in the collection of Messrs. Mortimer, of Driffield. It is chipped from both faces to an edge at each side in the handle-like part. I have an implement of the same character, found at Sewerby, the handle of which is slighter but less symmetrical. I have from the same district another large discoidal scraper, 13/4 inches in diameter, and chipped all round, with a rounded projection, about 3/4 of an inch wide, left at the thicker end of the flake.

The Greenwell Collection contains specimens of the same character as Fig. 221, found near Rudstone.

A nearly similar implement, in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy, has been engraved by Sir W. Wilde.[13]

Some of the large Danish scrapers are provided with a sort of handle, and have been termed by Worsaae[14] "skee-formet," or spoon-shaped.

Fig. 221.—Yorkshire Wolds.

It will be well now to refer to some of the published notices of the discovery of these implements, which seem to have met with little attention from antiquaries until within the last forty years. There is, however, in the British Museum a fine horseshoe-shaped scraper, which was found long ago by the late Dr. Mantell, in company with broken urns and ashes, in a barrow on Windore Hill, near Alfriston. In the same collection are four or five others of various sizes from barrows on Lambourn Downs, Berks, as well as those from the Greenwell Collection. Sir E. Colt Hoare has recorded the discovery of what appear to be two discoidal scrapers, with a flint spear-head or dagger, a small hone or whetstone, and a cone and ring of jet, like a pulley, accompanying an interment, near Durrington Walls.[15] He terms them little buttons of chalk or marl; but from the engraving it would seem that they were scrapers—probably of flint, much weathered, or altered in structure. It seems likely that many more may have escaped his notice, as they are of common occurrence in the tumuli in Wiltshire, as well as in the other parts of Britain. They are also recorded from Morgan's Hill[16] and Winterbourn Stoke. The late Dean Merewether[17] found several in barrows on Avebury Down, together with numerous flint flakes.

Some were found with burnt bodies in barrows at Cockmarsh,[18] Berks, and others in a barrow at Great Shefford.[19]

They occurred in barrows at Seaford,[20] Sussex, and Lichfield,[21] Hants, as well as in Devonshire[22] barrows.

Ten or twelve were also found by Dr. Thurnam in the chambered Long Barrow, at West Kennet,[23] with about three hundred flint flakes. There was no trace of metal, nor of cremation in this barrow.

A neat scraper was found in a hut-circle on Carn Brê,[24] Cornwall.

In the Yorkshire barrows they abound in company both with burnt and unburnt bodies,[25] without any metal being present. Canon Greenwell has in some cases found them with the edge worn smooth by use.

Mr. Bateman found many in Derbyshire barrows, as, for instance, at the head of a contracted skeleton on Cronkstone Hill,[26] and with another contracted skeleton with two sets of Kimmeridge coal beads, at Cow Low, Buxton,[27] and with four skeletons in a cist, in a barrow near Monsal Dale.[28]

They not unfrequently occur with interments in association with bronze weapons. In a barrow on Parwich Moor, Staffordshire,[29] called Shuttlestone, Mr. Bateman found a skeleton, with a bronze dagger at the left arm, and a plain flat bronze celt at the left thigh, and close to the head a jet bead and a "circular flint." As before stated, the late Mr. J. W. Flower, obtained three, and a bronze dagger, from the same barrow as the saw engraved at p. 266. They were also found with bronze in barrows in Rushmore Park.[30]

They are frequently to be seen on the surface of the ground. One such, found by the late Mr. C. Wykeham Martin, F.S.A., at Leeds Castle, Kent,[31] has been figured. Others from the neighbourhood of Hastings,[32] the Isle of Thanet,[33] and Bradford Abbas, Dorset,[34] have also been engraved. Many of those from Bradford are said to have a notch on the left side, but I am doubtful whether it is intentional. Gen. Pitt Rivers has found them at Callow Hill, Oxon,[35] and at Rotherley. They are also recorded from Holyhead Island,[36] Anglesea,[37] Tunbridge,[38] Milton,[39] and West Wickham,[40] Kent; Stoke Newington,[41] Middlesex; and Walton-on-the-Naze,[42] Essex.

I have found them in considerable numbers in and near ancient encampments. At Maiden Bower, near Dunstable, a party of three or four have on more than one occasion picked up upwards of forty specimens. I have examples from Hod Hill, Badbury Rings, and Poundbury Camp, Dorsetshire; from Little Solsbury Hill, Bath; Pulpit Wood, near Wendover, Bucks, and several localities in Suffolk, Cambs, and other counties. Some are very thick, though quite symmetrical in outline. On the Yorkshire Wolds, the Sussex Downs,[43] and in parts of Wilts and Suffolk, they are extremely numerous; but in any chalk country where flint is abundant, this form of implement can be found. In other districts, into which flint has to be imported, they are of course more scarce. They seem, however, to occur in greater or less abundance over the whole of England.

They are very numerous in Scotland, and extensive collections of them from Elgin, Wigtown, and other counties are to be seen in the National Museum at Edinburgh.

Specimens from a crannog in Ayrshire,[44] Urquhart, Elgin,[45] and Gullane Links,[46] Haddingtonshire, have been published.

They are found of nearly similar forms in Ireland, but are there rarer than in England, though fairly numerous in Antrim.[47]

In France the same form of instrument occurs, and I have a number of specimens from different parts of Belgium.

A spoon-shaped scraper from Neverstorff,[48] Schleswig Holstein, is figured. They are likewise found in South Russia.[49]

In Denmark scrapers of various forms are found, and are not uncommon in the kjökken-möddings and coast-finds. Sir John Lubbock[50] records having picked up as many as thirty-nine scrapers at a spot on the coast of Jutland, near Aarhuus.

In the Swiss Lake-dwellings they occasionally occur. I have a fine, almost kite-shaped, specimen from Auvernier, given me by Professor Desor, and others from Nussdorf. Some are engraved by Keller. They are also found in Italy. I have a small specimen from the Isle of Elba.

I possess specimens formed of obsidian, from Mexico; and instruments of jasper, of scraper-like forms, have been found at the Cape of Good Hope.[51] As already mentioned, they are well known in America. Some are found in Newfoundland.[52]

Instruments of the same character date back to very remote times, as numbers have been found in the cave deposits of the Reindeer Period of the South of France, as well as in a few in our English bone caves, as will subsequently be mentioned. A somewhat similar form occurs, though rarely, among the implements found in the ancient River Gravels.

Besides being used for scraping hides, and preparing leather, it has been suggested, by Canon Greenwell,[53] that they might have served for making pins and other small articles of bone, and also for fabricating arrow-heads and knives of flint. As to this latter use I am doubtful, but before entering into the question of the purposes which implements of the "scraper" form were in ancient times intended to serve, it will be well to examine the evidence of wear afforded by the implements themselves. This evidence is various in its character, and seems to prove that the implements were employed in more than one kind of work.

Among some hundreds of scrapers, principally from the Yorkshire Wolds, I have met with between twenty and thirty which show decided marks of being worn away along the circular edge, by friction. In some, the edge is only worn away sufficiently to remove all keenness or asperity, and to make it feel smooth to the touch, and this perhaps along one part only of the arc. In others, the whole edge is completely rounded, and many of the small facets by which it was originally surrounded, entirely effaced. The small striæ, resulting from the friction which has rounded the edge, are at right angles to the flat face of the implement, and the whole edge presents the appearance of having been worn away by scraping some comparatively soft substance—such, for instance, as leather. When we consider what an important part the skins of animals play in the daily life of most savage tribes, and especially of those exposed to a cold climate; and when we remember the amount of preparation, in the way of dressing and scraping, the hides require before they can be available for the purposes of clothing, or even tent making, it becomes evident that some instruments must have been in use by the ancient occupants of the country for the purpose of dressing skins; and the probability of these scrapers having been devoted to this purpose is strengthened by their being worn in just such a manner as they would have been, had they been in use for scraping some greasy dressing off not over-clean leather. The scrapers thus worn away are for the most part of the horseshoe form. There are some, however, which have the edge worn away, not at the circular end but along the edge towards the butt. In this case also they appear to have been employed for scraping, but the evidence as to the character of the substance scraped is not so distinct. It is, however, probable that in the fashioning of perforated axes and other implements, made of greenstone and other rocks not purely silicious, some scraping as well as grinding tools may have been employed, and possibly the wear of the edge of some of these tools may be due to such a cause. Even among the cave-dwellers of the Dordogne we find scrapers bearing similar marks of attrition, and we also know that flint flakes were used for scraping the hard hæmatitic iron ore, to produce the red pigment—the paint with which the men of those times seem to have adorned themselves.[54]

It will of course be urged that it is, after all, only a small proportion of these implements which bear these unmistakeable marks of wear upon them. It must, however, be remembered, that to produce much abrasion of the edge of an instrument made of so hard a material as flint, an enormous amount of wear against so soft a substance as hide would be necessary. It is indeed possible that the edge would remain for years comparatively unworn were the substance to be scraped perfectly free from grit and dirt. If we find identically the same forms of instruments, both worn and unworn, there is a fair presumption that both were intended for the same purpose, though the one, from accidental causes, has escaped the wear and tear visible on the other.

There are, however, circumstances which in this case point to an almost similar form having served two totally distinct purposes; for besides those showing the marks of use already described, we find some of these instruments with the edge battered and bruised to such an extent that it can hardly have been the result of scraping in the ordinary sense of the word.

To account for such a character of wear, there seems no need of going so far afield as among the Eskimos, or any other semi- civilized or savage people, to seek for analogies on which to base a conclusion—how far satisfactory it must be left to others to judge. Among the primary necessities of man (who has been defined as a cooking animal) is that of fire. It is no doubt a question difficult of solution whether our primitive predecessors were acquainted with any more ready means of producing it than by friction of two pieces of wood, especially at a time when there is reason to suppose they were unacquainted with the existence of iron as a metal. I have, however, already mentioned[55] that for the purpose of producing sparks, pyrites is as effective as iron, and was indeed in use among the Romans. Now the lower beds of our English chalk are prolific of pyrites, though not to the same extent as the upper beds are of flint; and it is not impossible that the use of a hammer-stone of pyrites, in order to form some instrument of flint, gave rise to the discovery of that method of producing fire, the invention of which the old myth attributed to Pyrodes, the son of Cilix. When exposed upon or near the surface of the ground, pyrites is very liable to decomposition, and even if occurring with ancient interments it would be very likely to be disregarded. This may account for the paucity of the notices of its discovery. Some, however, exist, and I have already mentioned[56] instances where nodules of pyrites have been discovered on the Continent in association with worked flints, both of Neolithic and Palæolithic age.

There are also instances of its occurrence in British barrows. That careful observer, the late Mr. Thomas Bateman, found, in the year 1844, in a barrow on Elton Moor,[57] near the head of a skeleton, "a piece of spherical iron pyrites, now for the first time noticed as being occasionally found with other relics in the British tumuli. Subsequent discoveries," he says, "have proved that it was prized by the Britons, and not unfrequently deposited in the grave, along with the weapons and ornaments which formed the most valued part of their store." With the same skeleton, in a "drinking-cup," with a small celt and other objects of flint, was a flat piece of polished iron ore, and twenty-one "circular instruments." In another barrow. Green Low,[58] Mr. Bateman discovered a contracted skeleton, having behind the shoulders a drinking-cup, a splendid flint dagger, apiece of spherical pyrites or iron ore, and a flint instrument of the circular-headed form. Lower down were barbed flint arrow-heads and some bone instruments. In Dowe Low,[59] a skeleton was accompanied by a bronze dagger and an "amulet or ornament of iron ore," together with a large flint implement that had seen a good deal of service. A broken nodule of pyrites showing signs of friction was found with a bronze dagger in a barrow at Angrowse[60] Mullion, Cornwall. In a barrow at Brigmilston,[61] between Everley and Amesbury, Sir R. Colt Hoare found, with an urn containing ashes, "the fragment of a bone article like a whetstone, some chipped flints prepared for arrow-heads, a long piece of flint and a pyrites, both evidently smoothed by usage."

A piece of iron pyrites with a groove worn in it and a peculiarly shaped implement of flint with evident marks of use at the larger end were found with an interment near Basingstoke Station.[62] Flint arrow-heads and flakes were also present.

Nodules of pyrites occurred in such numbers in a barrow on Broad Down,[63] near Honiton, as to suggest the idea of their having been placed there designedly, but none of them are described as abraded.

We have here, at all events, instances of the association of lumps of iron pyrites with circular-ended flint instruments in ancient interments. Can they have been in use together for producing fire? In order to judge of this our best guide will probably be, so far at all events as the flints are concerned, those in use for the same purpose in later times, and even at the present day.

In the Abbé Hamard's researches at Hermes[64] (Oise), two flint scrapers mounted in wooden handles round which were iron ferrules are said to have been discovered in Merovingian graves.

Fig. 222.—French "Strike-a-Light."
The Abbé Cochet[65] describes some of the flints found with Merovingian interments as resembling gun-flints; one of these was apparently carried at the waist, in a purse with money and other necessaries. A steel and a small piece of flint were found in a Saxon grave at High Down, Ferring,[66] Sussex. A similar practice of carrying in the pocket a piece of flint and some prepared tinder prevails in some parts of Europe to the present day; and, as I have before remarked, flints for this purpose are articles of sale. Fig. 222 shows one of these modern "strike-a-lights" which I purchased some years ago at Pontlevoy, in France. It is made of a segment of a flake, one edge and the sides of which have been trimmed to a scraper-like edge, and the other merely made straight. The resemblance between this and some of the ancient "scrapers" is manifest. Another strike-a-light flint, which I bought at a stall in Trier, is about 2 inches long by 13/8 inches broad, and is made from a flat flake, trimmed to a nearly square edge at the butt-end, and to a very flat arc at the point, both the trimmed edges being of precisely the same character as those of scrapers. I find, moreover, that by working such a flint and a steel or briquet together, much the same bruising of the edge is produced as that apparent on some of the old "scrapers." I come, therefore, to the conclusion, that a certain proportion of these instruments were in use, not for scraping hides like the others, but for scraping iron pyrites, and not improbably, in later days, even iron or steel for procuring fire. Were they used for such a purpose we can readily understand why they should so often present a bruising of the edge and an irregularity of form. We can also find a means of accounting for their great abundance.

Looking at the question from a slightly different point of view, this method of solution receives additional support. Everyone will, I think, readily concede that, putting for the moment pyrites out of the question, the inhabitants of this country must have been acquainted with the method of producing fire by means of flint and steel or iron, at all events so long ago as when their intercourse with the Romans commenced, if not at an even earlier period. We may, in any case, assume that flints have been in use as fire-producing agents for something like 2,000 years, and that consequently the number of them that have thus served must be enormous. What has become of them all? They cannot, like some antiquities, be "only now rare because they were always valueless," for in their nature they are almost indestructible. Many, no doubt, were mere irregular lumps of flint, broken from time to time to produce such an edge as would scrape the steel; but is it not in the highest degree probable that many were of the same class as those sold for the same purpose at the present day—flakes chipped into a more or less scraper-like form at one end?

There is yet another argument. In many instances these circular-ended flints, when found upon the surface, have a comparatively fresh and unweathered appearance; and, what is more, have the chipped parts stained by iron-mould. In some cases there are particles of iron, in an oxidized condition, still adherent. Such iron marks, especially on flint which has weathered white, may, and indeed commonly do, arise from the passage of harrows and other agricultural implements, and of horses shod with iron, over the fields; but did the marks arise merely from this cause, it appears hardly probable that in any instance they should be confined to the chipped edge, and not occur on other parts of the flint.

Fig. 223.—Rudstone.

I had written most of the foregoing remarks when, in November, 1870, an interesting discovery, made by Canon Greenwell, F.R.S., in his exploration of a barrow[67] at Rudstone, near Bridlington, in Yorkshire, came to corroborate my views. I have already described a whetstone found with one of the interments in this barrow, and mentioned that between the knees and the head were found, with other objects, the half of a nodule of iron pyrites, and a long round-ended flake of flint which lay underneath it. They are both represented full size in accompanying figure (Fig. 223). A portion of the outside of the pyrites has been ground smooth, and a projecting knob has been worked down, so as to bring it to an approximately hemispherical shape, and adapt it for being comfortably held in the hand. The fractured surface, where the nodule was broken in two, is somewhat oval, and in the centre, in the direction of the longer diameter, is worn a wide shallow groove, of just the same character as would have been produced by constant sharp scraping blows from a round-ended flake or scraper, such as that which was found with it. The whole surface is somewhat worn and striated, in the same direction as the principal central groove; and the edge of the flat face of the pyrites is more worn away at the top and bottom of the groove than at the other parts.

The scraper is made from a narrow thick external flake, the end of which has been trimmed to a semicircular bevelled edge—a portion of one side has also been trimmed. At the end, and along some parts of the sides, this edge is worn quite smooth, and rounded by friction, and there are traces of similar wear at the butt-end. In a second grave in the same barrow there lay, behind the back, two jet buttons and a similar pyrites and flint. There can, I think, be no reasonable doubt of their having been, in these instances, fire-producing implements, used in the manner indicated in the annexed figure. The finding of the two materials together, in two separate instances, in both of which the pyrites and the flint presented the same forms and appearance, establishes the fact of their connection; and it is hard to imagine any other purpose for which pyrites could be scraped by flint except that of producing fire. Moreover, in another barrow on Crosby Garrett Fell,[68] Westmoreland, Canon Greenwell found a piece of iron ore (oxidized pyrites) held in the hand of a skeleton, and a long thick flake of flint, evidently a "flint and steel."

Fig. 224.—Method of using Pyrites and "Scraper" for Striking a Light.

It cannot have been merely for the purpose of producing a paint or colour that they were brought together, as though the outer crust of a nodule of pyrites might, if ground, give a dull red pigment, yet the inner freshly-broken face would not do so; and, if it would, the colour would be more readily procured by grinding on a flat stone than by scraping. It would be interesting to compare these objects with the pyrites and pebbles in use among the Fuegians[69], who employ dried moss or fungus by way of tinder, but appear to find some difficulty in producing fire. The Eskimos[70] and some North American tribes also obtain fire from pyrites.

Sir Wollaston Franks has called my attention to another half nodule of pyrites preserved in the British Museum, which is some- what abraded in the middle of its flat face, though not so much so as that from Yorkshire. It was discovered with flint flakes in a barrow on Lambourn Down,[71] Berkshire, by Mr. E. Martin Atkins, in 1850. In a barrow at Flowerburn,[72] Ross-shire, in 1885, a similar half nodule and a flint scraper were found, and a discovery of the same kind was made by Lord Northesk, at Teindside,[73] near Minto, Roxburghshire, about 1870. A fine piece of pyrites in company with worked flints was found in 1881, in a ruined dolmen, in the Ile d'Arz,[74] Brittany, by the Abbé Luco. A well striated block of pyrites was also found with numerous objects formed of flint and other kinds of stone, on the Rocher de Beg-er-Goallenner, Quiberon, by M. F. Gaillard.[75]

A nodule of pyrites, with a deep scoring upon it, and found in one of the Belgian bone caves, the Trou de Chaleux, has been engraved by Dr. E. Dupont,[76] who regards it as having been used as a fire-producing agent. The flint that produced the scoring appears to have had a pointed, rather than a rounded end. Possibly the wearing away of the ends of certain flakes, for which it has been difficult to account, may be due to their having been used in this manner for striking a light.

There are yet some other long flakes which are trimmed to a scraper-like edge at one or both ends; but in these cases the trimming appears to have been rather for the purpose of enabling the flake to be conveniently held in the hand, so as to make use of its cutting edge, than with the intention of converting the trimmed end into a scraping or cutting tool. The ends of some of the hafted knives or saws found in the Swiss Lake-dwellings are thus trimmed.

On the whole, we may conclude, with some appearance of probability, that a certain proportion of these instruments, and more especially those of regular shape, and those of large size, were destined to be used as scrapers in the process of dressing hides and for other purposes; that others again, and chiefly those of moderate size with bruised and battered edges, were used at one period with iron pyrites, and at a subsequent date with iron or steel, for the production of fire; and lastly that others have had their ends trimmed into shape, so as to render them symmetrical in form, or to enable them to be conveniently handled or hafted.

There are still one or two other forms to which, from the character of their edge, the designation of scraper may be given. The instrument from the Yorkshire Wolds, shown in Fig. 225, may, for instance, be called a straight scraper. It is made from a broad flat flake, with a well-developed bulb of percussion on the face, and the counterpart of another at the back, so that the section at the base is much curved. The point of the flake and its left side have been chipped away, so that they are nearly straight, and form between them an angle of about 60°. The edge is sharper, and the form, I think, more regular than if it had been used in conjunction with pyrites or steel, and I am therefore inclined to regard it as a tool. The late Mr. Charles Monkman, who gave me this specimen, also gave me another, more crescent-shaped in form, the base being roughly chipped to a regular sweep. I have another larger flint, similar to Fig. 225, found by the late Mr. Whitbourn, F.S.A., in the neighbourhood of Godalming. Before pronouncing definitely as to the degree of antiquity to be assigned to such instruments, it will be well to have authenticated instances of their discovery in association with other remains, and not merely on the surface. In character, however, they much resemble other flint instruments of undoubtedly high antiquity, though they present the peculiarity of having the edge at right angles to the axis of the flake from which they are made, instead of being parallel to it.

Fig. 225.—Yorkshire Wolds. Fig. 226.—Yorkshire Wolds.

A singular flint instrument of a rudely heart-shaped form, with one straight serrated edge, is figured with other tools, &c., from the Culbin Sands.[77]

To another of these forms, of which a not very first-rate example is given in Fig. 226, the designation of hollow scraper may be applied, the scraping edge being concave, instead of as usual, convex. This specimen also is from the Yorkshire Wolds. I have, however, found analogous instruments on the Sussex Downs, the hollowed edges of which appear to have been used for scraping some cylindrical objects. In Ireland this form not unfrequently occurs. I have several specimens with the hollow as regular in its sweep as any of the scrapers of the ordinary form, and I have thought it advisable to figure a typical example as Fig. 226a. They seem well adapted for scraping into regular shape the stems of arrows or the shafts of spears, or for fashioning bone pins. Among modern artificers in wood, bone, ivory, or metal, scraping tools play a far more important part than would at first sight appear probable, looking at the abundance and perfection of our cutting tools and files. The latter, indeed, are merely compound forms of "scrapers."

Fig. 226a.—North of Ireland.

A less symmetrical hollow scraper from the Culbin Sands[78] has been engraved; as has been another which Dr. Joseph Anderson[79] used in the production of an arrow-shaft, and which he found to be a very efficient tool. Some writers have regarded these hollow-edged scrapers as saws[80], but I think erroneously.

Implements of the same character have been found in Egypt[81], and in France, and probably exist in other countries.

  1. Pt. ii. p. 14. One from Alaska of this form and another with a long handle are figured in Zeitsch. f. Ethn., vol. xvi. p. (222).
  2. "Prehist. Times," 4th ed., p. 513, figs. 214—6.
  3. "Nat. Hist. of Man," vol. ii. p. 699.
  4. "Rel. Aquit.," p. 13.
  5. Proc. Ethn. Soc., N. S., vol. i. p. 137. See Rep. Bureau of Ethn., 1887-8, p. 294.
  6. P. S. A. S., vol. xxiv. p. 142.
  7. Rep. of U.S. Nat. Mus., Washington, 1891, p. 553.
  8. Schoolcraft, "Ind. Tribes," vol. iv. p. 175.
  9. Intern. Archiv., vol. ii. p. 212.
  10. Arch. per l'Ant. e la Etn., vol. xxiv., 1894, p. 245.
  11. Bull. Soc. d'Anth. de Paris, 4th S. vol. vii., 1896, p. 374.
  12. P. 319.
  13. "Cat. Mus. R. I. A.," fig. 8.
  14. "Nord. Olds.," No. 29.
  15. "South Wilts," p. 172, pl. xix.
  16. Arch., vol. xliii. pp. 420, 421.
  17. "Salisb. Vol. Arch. Inst.," p. 106.
  18. Proc. Soc. Ant., 2nd S., vol. xii. p. 239.
  19. Arch. Assoc. Journ., vol. xxii. p. 450. Arch., vol. xliii. p. 420.
  20. Suss. Arch. Coll., vol. xxxii. p. 174. Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. vi. p. 287.
  21. Proc. Soc. Ant., 2nd. S. vol. x. p. 18.
  22. Trans. Dev. Assoc., vol. xii. p. 140.
  23. "Cran. Brit.," vol. ii., pl. 50, p. 2. Arch., vol. xxxviii. p. 416.
  24. Reliq., vol. xxxii., 1896, p. 109.
  25. Arch. Journ., vol. xiv. p. 83; xxii. 116, 245, 251; xxvii. 71. Reliquary, vol. ix. p. 69. "Ten Years' Dig.," pp. 205, 208. "Brit. Bar." pp. 251, 348, And passim.
  26. "T. Y. D.," p. 56.
  27. "Vest. Ant. Derb.," p. 92.
  28. "T. Y. D.," p. 78.
  29. "T. Y. D.," p. 35. Arch. Assoc. Journ., vol. vii. p. 217.
  30. Pitt Rivers, "Exc. on Cranb. Chase," vol. ii. pl. lxvi. and lxxxix.
  31. Proc. Soc. Ant., 2nd S., vol. iii. p. 76.
  32. Sussex Arch. Coll., vol. xix. p. 53.
  33. Journ. Ethn. Soc., vol. i. pl. i.
  34. Arch. Journ., vol. xxv. p. 155.
  35. Journ. Ethn. Soc., vol. i. p. 4.
  36. Arch. Camb., 4th S., vol. ix. p. 37.
  37. Arch. Journ., vol. xxxi. pp. 297, 301.
  38. Proc. Soc. Ant., 2nd S., vol. viii. p. 385.
  39. Arch. Cant., vol. xiii. p. 124. "Coll. Cant.," p. 4.
  40. Arch. Cant., vol. xiv. p. 88.
  41. Essex Nat., vol. ii. p. 67.
  42. Essex Nat., vol. iii. p. 159.
  43. A considerable number of them are in the Lewes Museum. Suss. Ant. Coll., vol. xxxviii. p. 226; xxxix. p. 97.
  44. Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., vol. xv. p. 109. Munro's "Lake-dw.," pp. 109, 174.
  45. P. S. A. S., vol. ix. p. 461; vol. xix. p. 250.
  46. P. S. A. S., vol. xviii. p. 249.
  47. Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. vii. p. 202; ix. pp. 167, 320.
  48. Zeitsch. f. Ethn., vol. xvi. p. (356).
  49. Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. x. p. 352.
  50. "Preh. Times," 4th ed. p. 110.
  51. Trans. Preh. Cong., 1868, p. 69. Journ. Ethnol. Soc., vol. i. p. 52.
  52. Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. v. p. 239, pl. xi., 4.
  53. Arch. Journ., vol. xxii. p. 101.
  54. As another purpose to which these instruments may have been applied, Dr. Keller ("Lake-Dwellings," pp. 34, 97) has suggested that some of the scrapers found in the Swiss Lake-dwellings may have been in use for scaling fish.
  55. P. 16.
  56. P. 15.
  57. "Vest. Ant. Derb.," p. 53.
  58. Op. cit., p. 59. Reliq., vol. iii. p. 176. "Cran. Brit.," vol. ii. pl. xli.
  59. "Vest. Ant. Derb.," p. 96.
  60. "Nænia Cornub.," p. 227.
  61. "South "Wilts," p. 195. Arch., vol. xliii. p. 422.
  62. Reliquary, vol. xxiv, p. 128.
  63. Arch. Journ., vol. xxv. p. 295.
  64. Cong. Préh. Lisbonne, 1880, p. 387.
  65. "Normandie Souterraine," p. 258.
  66. Arch. vol. liv. p. 375.
  67. "British Barrows," p. 266.
  68. "Brit. Barr.," pp. 266, 390.
  69. Wood, "Nat. Hist. of Man," vol. ii. p. 522.
  70. Hough. "Fire Making Apparatus" in Rep. of U. S. Nat. Mus., Washington, 1888, p. 573.
  71. Figured in Arch., vol. xliii. p. 422.
  72. Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., vol. xix, p. 356.
  73. P. S. A. S., vol. viii. p. 137.
  74. "Expl. des Dolmens," Vannes, 1882, I. p. 6.
  75. C. R. de l'Assoc., fr. pour l'av. des Sciences, Grenoble, 1885.
  76. "Les Cav. de la Belgique," vol. ii. pl. ix. 2. "L'homme pendant les Ages de la Pierre," 1871, p. 74.
  77. Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., vol. xxv. p. 499.
  78. Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., vol. xxv. p. 497.
  79. P. S. A. S., vol. xi. p. 512.
  80. Dr. J. S. Houlder, Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. iii. p. 338; iv. p. 19. See also Journ. R. H. and Arch. Assoc. of Irel., 4th S., vol. v. p. 124.
  81. Journ. Anth. Inst., vol. xi. pl. xxx.