Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mesolithic beads found at Welsh dolmen site

A recent excavation led by archaeologist George Nash in November 2010 at the Trefael Stone in south-west Wales - originally a portal dolmen transformed in later times in a standing stone - has revealed a small assemblage of exotic artefacts including three drilled shale beads, identical to those found at a nearby Early Mesolithic coastal habitation site.
Until recently, little was known about the stones use and origin. A geophysical survey undertaken in September 2010 revealed the remains of a kidney-shaped cairn and it was within this clear feature that the three perforated shale beads were found. These items, each measuring about 4.5 centimetres in diameter, were found within a disturbed cairn or post-cairn deposit.
Based on the discovery of 690 perforated beads found at the coastal seasonal camp of Nab Head in southern Pembrokeshire, it is possible that the three Trefael beads are contemporary. Microware analysis on one of the beads was inconclusive but the perforation appeared to have the same micro-wear abrasions as beads from the Nab Head site.
The beads from the Nab Head site were oval-shaped and water worn. Each disc was uniform in shape and thickness and had been drilled using an awl-type flint tool, referred to as a Meches-de-foret. It is probable that the Nab Head beads and those from Trefael were made for adornment, either sewn into clothing or forming bracelets/necklaces. In association with the perforated beads a number 'blanks' were found suggesting that The Nab Head site was a production centre for bead making.

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