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 Section 1

1.1 - The Stone Ages

The Stone Age is the general name given to the time between 300,000BC and 2,000BC, and is split into 3 sections:
  • Palaeolithic Period (Old Stone Age): 300,000 - 9,500 BC
  • Mesolithic Period (Middle Stone Age): 9,500 - 4,500 BC
  • Neolithic (New Stone Age): 4,500 - 2,000 BC

During these time periods, the only materials used by man for making tools were those which occurred naturally, such as Stone, Wood, Bone, etc.

1.2 -  Palaeolithic Period
People first occupied the area now known as Leicestershire during the Palaeolithic period, which ran from 300,000 BC to 9,500 BC. The first people to move through the county would have been small groups of hunters, who would have used simple flint tools, examples of which have been found in the Abbey Meadows and Scraptoft areas of Leicester.

Of course, at this time, the animals they would have been hunting would be quite different from the animals around today. They would have hunted Elephants, Rhinoceros, deer and wild boar.

The occupation of the area continued periodically between ice ages, which changed the landscape and climate of the area, until around 12,000 years ago, when the last glaciers retreated, leaving a landscape similar to that of today. Since this time, people have always occupied the area.

1.3 - Mesolithic Period

After the end of the Palaeolithic period, the hunter gatherer people continued for around 5000 years, into the Mesolithic period, which lasted until 4,500BC

It was during this period that the first farmers began to work the land, which led to the construction of small communities. Towards the end of the Mesolithic period and into the Neolithic period, trade started to develop. Trade routs started to spring up across the countryside, several of which crossed the river soar at the places now known as Leicester, and Cotes (just outside Loughborough)

 

1.4 - Neolithic Period

During the Neolithic period, which ran from 4500 BC to 7000BC, farming was developing, as farmers came up with better and more efficient farming methods and tools. The climate was, by this time, similar to that of today, and much of the county was covered by dense oak forest, large areas of which had to be cleared to provide farming land, which required the use of stone axes, examples of which have been found in the area, and which were mainly made of stone from the Charnwood forest.

As trade increased, settlements began to spring up along the trade routes. The largest of these was Leicester, on the main crossing point of the river Soar, where several trade routes all met. The land here was cleared around 4,000 years ago (2000 BC) and the settlement became a major trading post.

The woodland was cleared during this period over much of the Wolds and the Soar Valley, but the higher hills remained untouched, the area now known as Charnwood forest.

 

Question A

Stone Age Tools

 

Source A

A hand-axe made sometime between 60,000 and 40,000 BC.

(2000 British Museum)

Source B

A handaxe (biface) made sometime between 60,000 and 40,000 years ago

( 2000 Creswell Heritage Trust )

Source C

"Like flint, clay-ironstone is sufficiently fine grained and can be knapped producing conchoidal fractures. However, the material is softer than flint and the effectiveness of tools made from it may have been limited and requiring frequent resharpening."

From "www.cresswellcrags.org.uk"

Write the answers to the following questions in an email to your tutor.

  1. Of the hand axes above, one was made of clay-iron stone and one was made of flint. Which is which?

    1

  2. Read source C. Why might the people have used clay-ironstone to make their axe rather than flint?

    1

  3. Looking at the diagram, was the top or bottom of source B the cutting edge?

    1

  4. Why did they burn the forest first, before clearing the area with axes?

    2

  5. A. Why did farmers begin to clear the land in the middle to late stone age?

B. Why was the land on top of Charnwood forest left relatively untouched?

5

10

---END OF SECTION 1---

Please make sure that you feel confident about this topic prior to moving on to section 2.