Category Archives: Beaker

VM_365 Day 168 Retouched Flint Arrowhead

VM 168

Today’s VM_365 Day 168 image shows a late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age arrowhead from Cliffsend.
This barbed and tanged arrowhead had broken along one of the barbs and instead of being discarded, the edge was retouched so it could be reused.

Other examples of flint objects that have been reworked into a useable object following damaged were posted for Day 165 and Day 50.

VM_365 Day 165 Reworked Polished Flint Axe

VM 165

The image for Day 165 of the VM_365 project shows a reworked polished flint axe that was found in the primary ditch fill of a Beaker period barrow at North Foreland, Broadstairs in 2004.

This was originally a small polished axe that was reworked to make it usable after it broke at the butt end. The butt end was tapered to aid re-hafting and the cutting edge was re-sharpened.


VM_365 Day 161 Beaker from Manston, Ramsgate

VM 161bToday’s VM_365 image shows a Beaker vessel, which has been heavily restored, that accompanied the same burial as the  plano-convex flint knife and ‘V’ perforated jet button shown on Day  159 and Day 160.

The Beaker was found on its side on the base of the grave which was cut into the chalk geology. One large sherd from the neck and rim were found lying about 10 cm away from the main body, suggesting that the burial had been disturbed at some point in its history, possibly when a later Anglo Saxon burial may have been cut into the earlier burial.

A radiocarbon date from bone from the skeleton buried in  the grave dates the burial to 1680±50 BC.

The beaker is approximatley 10cm high with a base diameter of 6cm is made of light brown fabric. Grey patches of firing clouds on the body are indicative of an open firing. The core of the fabric  is grey, indicating that the short firing at a low temperature had not succeeded in burning out the natural organic inclusions in the clay.

The decoration on the vessel was made with a toothed comb, which has been carelessly used. On the upper part of the vessel the impressions of the comb’s teeth are so blurred that they seem to be incised. The decorative scheme consists of rows of chevrons, encircling combed lines and filled triangles. There is a basal zone of paired finger nail impressions

The vessel is unusual in that although the fabric is fine, the vessel is well fired and finished but the vessel is  asymmetrical and the decoration has been carelessly applied. The lop sided shape of the vessel is possibly a result of the clay being too wet, causing it to sag.

VM_365 Day 160 ‘V’ perforated Jet Button

VM 161

Today’s image shows the front and back views of a jet button that was found within the same grave as yesterday’s plano-convex flint knife from Manston, near Ramsgate in 1987.

The jet button was found resting on the floor of the grave to the west of the skull. Jet buttons of this ‘V’ perforation type that are also associated with a flint knife and a Beaker vessel are known as far afield as Devon, Berkshire and Wiltshire.

VM_365 Day 159 Flint Knife from Manston

V 159

Today’s VM_365 image shows a plano-convex flint knife found within a grave that was excavated at the centre of a Bronze Age barrow at Manston, near Ramsgate in 1987.

The grave contained the remains of a slightly built young adult in a crouched position accompanied by the flint knife, which was located just above the skull, as well as a jet button and a long-necked beaker vessel.


VM_365 Day 137 Two Beaker sherds from Lord of the Manor Ramsgate

Two Beaker sherds from Lord of the Manor, Ramsgate.
Two Beaker sherds from Lord of the Manor, Ramsgate.

Toady’s image for VM_365 Day 137 is of two admittedly small, but important pottery sherds of Beaker vessels,  like the  Grooved Ware sherd from Day 136, the two Beaker sherds were found together in the 1976 excavations at Lord of the Manor, Ramsgate.

The sherds are from Phase 2 of the development of the Lord of the Manor 1 monument, a period of Early Bronze Age activity associated with the re-use of the earliest ring ditched enclosure as a burial site. In this phase a burial was placed within a smaller ring-ditch that was cut inside the circuit of the earlier large causewayed enclosure ditch, to create a round barrow.

The smaller sherd on the left of the image is decorated with a cord impression, which would have extended over the whole body of the vessel. The second sherd on the right is decorated with a pattern in zones, created with impressions from the teeth of a comb.

The first cord impressed style is the earliest, dating between c.2300-200 BC. The second comb decorated sherd is marginally later, around 2100-1900 BC. Both sherds are made of an identical fine oxidised fabric, with a fine silty fabric matrix and fine crushed pot grog tempering. Both have a similar neat, finely executed  decoration and so can reasonably be thought of as contemporary vessels.

Both sherds were found in a small pit, located  outside the ditch enclosing the central burial. The two sherds indicate a date between c.2100-2000 BC for the feature, although this has not yet been confirmed by Carbon14 dating.

Once again today’s VM_365 image and information on the pottery has been provided by ceramic specialist Nigel Macpherson-Grant.

VM_365 Day 92. Promoting Pride in a Prehistoric Presence

Images of Prehistoric Thanet
Images from Prehistoric Thanet

Today’s image for Day 91 of VM_365 is a reminder that Thanet’s past extends long into the prehistoric period. Our archaeological record has some of the most interesting and important evidence of the earliest periods of human settlement.

There is evidence from Thanet from the period of the earliest of our human ancestors, and from the first hunter gatherers who ranged over the landscape after the last Ice Age hundreds of thousands of years later.

There have been archaeological finds from all the periods recognised by prehistorians, from those Mesolithic hunters thorough the Neolithic, Beaker, Bronze Age and Iron Age.

Six thousand years of our human story are represented only by archaeological finds and sites and some of the most important have been discovered on the Isle of Thanet. Prehistory is now part of the school curriculum and it should be in the mind of anyone interested in the long story of the Isle of Thanet.


VM_365 Day 47: Beaker and Wristguard from St Peters, Broadstairs


Today’s image is of a stone archer’s wristguard accompanying a Beaker vessel found in an Early Bronze Age round barrow at St Peters, Broadstairs.

The wristguard, made from non local mudstone, and Beaker were found in excavations at the St Peter’s Refuse tip site between 1969-1971 where an important Anglo Saxon cemetery was also excavated.

VM_365 Day 29 What lies beneath the cropmark rings?

Circular ditch at North Foreland, Broadstairs showing in chalk geology after plough soil has been removed.
Circular ditch at North Foreland, Broadstairs showing in chalk geology after plough soil has been removed.

We know from the image in Day 28 of VM_365 that the locations of  the prehistoric burial mounds of Neolithic and Bronze Age Thanet can still be traced from the influence they have on the growth of the crops in the fields that lie over them.

Today’s image, taken at a site at North Foreland near Broadstairs, shows what happens when the thin skim of plough soil that overlies the ditches is removed by archaeologists, using a combination of a carefully controlled mechanical excavator and a final clean up using hand tools.

Once the earth filled ditches and pits underlying the plough soil has been exposed, planning and recording can take place before any further excavation is carried out to examine how deep the surviving ditches may be, and to recover any finds that can help to give a date for the feature.

Careful attention is paid to the irregular patches of dark soil that are enclosed within the ditch because these may be contain the burials that were marked by the ring ditches and their associated mounds as enduring features in the landscape . Other burials were often inserted later, when the mound and ditch surrounding the burial had become a familiar feature in the landscape.

At this stage an archaeological site which was previously known only through images holds the potential to produce physical evidence for the past.

VM_365 Day 24 Symbols of power and weak English coffee

Three arrowheads associated with the Beaker at Margate
Three arrowheads associated with the Beaker at Margate

A few years ago a young French PhD researcher called Clément Nicolas, contacted us after seeing a piece on our Virtual Museum on the Beaker Burial discovered at Margate, which featured in the image for VM_365 Day 16.

Today we received a link to the two volumes and CD catalogue of Clément’s PhD thesis Symbols of power at the time of Stonehenge : productions of prestigious arrowheads from Brittany to Denmark (2500-1700 BC), which will no doubt provide an important and valuable resource for archaeological research in the future.

His interest was in the flint arrowheads that are commonly associated with Beaker burials in Britain and on the continent and part of his research involved creating a catalogue of every arrowhead that has been discovered, visiting museums from Brittany to Denmark to photograph and describe each of them.

We were able to show him the the four arrowheads that we had found in association with the Beaker burial at Margate, three with the primary Beaker burial and the fourth with a second skeleton which had been buried a generation later in the same location. Arrow heads that are in the collection at the Powell Cotton Museum were also made available for him to study.

The arrow heads from Margate are of particular interest as they are some of the few in Kent that were actually found in association with a burial. Although many Beaker burials have been found in Thanet, some in association with ‘archer’s wrist guards’ , another typical find from the Beaker archer’s kit, arrow heads remaining in association with a burial are surprisingly rare.

Perhaps his second greatest contribution to archaeology during his visit was to point out that the instant coffee we made for him was far to weak for French tastes and boosted with an extra couple of spoons and reduced to half its volume could be made moderately palatable. We still occasionally offer coffee in ‘Clément’ style to visitors who can take the power.