Day 134’s VM_365 image is of a flint knife, a prehistoric flint tool, that had been re-deposited in the fill of a chalk quarry pit dating to the medieval period and sectioned in excavations carried out in 2013.
The knife has been carefully flaked on both sides, it is slightly thinner and curved on the cutting edge. It is comfortable to hold in the hand and could have been used without being set in a wooden or bone handle or haft. The manufacture and use of this type of flint tool spans the Late Neolithic to Early Bronze Age c.2800-1700 BC.
The knife would have been used for everyday meat processing tasks, although it is definitely not a skinning knife, which are usually thin and often polished for the careful task of smoothly separating hide from flesh. Because it is a thick and heavy tool, it would have been ideal for butchering tasks; cutting joints; separating limbs and other heavy tasks.
The Trust for Thanet Archaeology is an educational charity and one of its aims is to teach people about Thanet’s very important past history, which has been revealed through archaeological investigation.
One of the problems faced by the Trust is that much of our archaeology remains hidden from view under the wide expanses of agricultural fields that cover the Island. Take a close look at the area surrounding the excavation in the image, which is as flat and featureless as any field could be. Yet below the thin covering of top soil are the remains of a prehistoric site, formed of several succeeding ring ditches that were used and adapted for many different ceremonies and burials from the Beaker period to the Bronze Age.
The importance of Thanet’s landscape in the past partly derived from the fertile soils and relatively warm weather, where the climatic conditions on this south east coast were not dissimilar to those of the near continent. For prehistoric peoples, the interaction with the coastal areas of Britain were not such a great leap as they would have been if the conditions were closer to those in the north of the the British Isles. The combination of close European connections, openness to innovation in culture and the fertile landscape, led to the formation of a dense record of past settlement that has been discovered in the Isle of Thanet.
Sites like the Lord-of-the Manor ring ditches shown in the image tell the earliest part of Thanet’s story , but their significance can really only be comprehended by looking at the records, reports and images that remain from the archaeological efforts to discover and investigate them. The intensification of agriculture from the medieval period onwards levelled the remains of the settlements of preceding generations, until only the truncated remnants lay buried under a swathe of plough soil, covering miles of flat ploughed fields.
Over time, each generation has done its best to prosper in the soil. For many centuries much of the landscape was in use as grazing land and we have archaeological evidence that ancient barrow mounds and ditches remained standing in the landscape in the Roman period. As late as the 19th century earthworks and mounds remained in the Lord-of-the Manor area of Ramsgate, where today’s image was taken during excavations in 1976.