Experimental composite tool making

Director Paul Gething did a bit of experimental archaeology this past weekend. Here’s what he has to report.

I did a little experiment to see how quick and easy it would be to make a composite tool. The idea was to make something that could be used to harvest sedge at the Kaims in the summer. I attempted to make something between a saw and a sickle.

I took a few flint flakes that I had as debitage and just general surplus from my patio floor.


I found a length of willow from my woodpile and a larger flint to work with.


I used the retouched saw edge to cut the wood to size. I scored a deep groove all the way around and then snapped the wood cleanly. The wood is 25mm diameter and was harvested in the autumn of 2014. Sawing a 3mm groove all the way around took under 2 minutes.


I used a hooked flake to cut a groove in the willow. Once it was started it was very quick, only taking ten minutes to cut a groove 5 mm deep. (The actual flint used was the hooked flint in the top of the glued final piece photo).


The final step was to glue in the flint debitage I had scrounged up earlier.


The glue was some I had lying around from my other projects. It was made a while ago using wood ash, warm milk and vinegar.

The entire build took 35 minutes. If I had used resin or similar and therefore needed to heat it up, I imagine that would have stretched to 45 minutes.

I will take the finished tool to the Kaims in the summer and see how it performs. I will report back in June.


A better photo of the flint arrowhead

So excited were the Bradford Kaims Team with their shiny new find that Neal drove it over to the castle. This has allowed a somewhat better photograph to be taken.

A somewhat better photo of the Bradford Kaims arrowhead, with a scale.

Its a nicely worked arrowhead, slightly asymmetrical, though this may be due to damage to one side. There is a change of angle visible along the top edge, where a fragment may have snapped off. This is not a modern break and could indicate use of the arrowhead prior to it being lost or deposited in the ground. It measures 27 mm by 15 mm, and since the current author is more of a medievalist he is tentatively offering a date c. 2000 BC, give or take a good margin.

Additionally we have three winners of the Young Archaeologist Club competition organised by the Council for British Archaeology on site with us at the castle today. More of this later.