This is a slightly delayed post about an extraordinary find that we made at the Bradford Kaims excavation towards the end of the Summer season. It has taken some time for us to work out the beginning of a strategy on dealing with it, so we delayed announcing the news for a while as a result.
Right at the end of the dig, which has revealed some very exciting preserved organic remains in the peat deposits to the immediate west of Trench 6, we uncovered a surprisingly well preserved timber paddle. It was lying just on top of a timber platform, formed from round wood lengths pegged into the underlying layers. The platform would have been exciting enough but the paddle is just outstanding. We think from parallels that it may be for moving the hot rocks of the burnt mound rather than paddling a canoe at the moment. Our best dating for it comes from its stratigraphic relationship with an archaeomagnetically dated hearth. This date is further supported by the presence of a substantial assemblage of Carinated Bowl pottery. Right at this moment we think the platform and paddle are very, very early Neolithic. Making it in the order of 6000 or more years old.
The paddle was obviously in a very fragile state and if left to dry out it would have been lost, so rescuing it from site once it was revealed was a priority. It was lifted in a block with the supporting deposits on the evening of the 28th July. It was not an easy job, in fact we did not make to the pub for a celebratory pint till after 9:00!
It is currently in safe storage at Edinburgh University, and we are very grateful for their help at rather short notice. The process of freeing the find from its protective covers will start soon and we will keep you posted on developments here. The timber platform, that supported the paddle, lay directly above burnt mound stones, so lifting it was problematic. We can only hope it was successful.
There is more news to come from the Kaims yet, so keep an eye out for further updates.
The first Article on the find has been written by Tony Henderson of the Journal.