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A 4,000-year-old polished stone goldsmith’s toolkit has been discovered in a grave next to Stonehenge

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The artefacts were buried in a Bronze Age grave in the Wiltshire village of Upton Lovell and were first discovered in 1801.

Polished stones found near Stonehenge may have been part of a 4,000-year-old goldsmith’s toolkit, say experts quoted by the Daily Mail.

Archaeologists from the University of Leicester found traces of gold on their surface, indicating that they were once used as hammers or anvils for working metals. For this purpose, the scientists applied the modern method of “microwear analysis”, examining the surface of the stones with powerful microscopes and thus registering the remains of gold on them.

The artefacts were buried in a Bronze Age grave in the Wiltshire village of Upton Lovell and were first discovered in 1801.

Two people were laid in this burial mound and are believed to be a shaman and his wife. The scientists came to this conclusion because one of the sets of skeletal remains was dressed in “lavish costume,” including a ceremonial cloak, beaded necklaces and pieces of processed animal bone.

In the Early Bronze Age, shamans were people who were believed to be able to interact with the spirit world and bones, being associated with death and rebirth, symbolized their power.

Among the remains is also a greenstone battle ax and a pouch decorated with boar’s tusks that contains tattooing tools.

At the feet of the skeleton lay an array of hammers and grindstones, which were probably used for smoothing and polishing gold. This suggests that the shaman was also engaged in metalworking.

Lisa Brown, curator at Wiltshire Museum, said:

“The man buried at Upton Lovell, near Stonehenge, was a highly skilled craftsman who specialized in making gold objects.”

“His ceremonial cloak, decorated with pierced animal bones, also suggests that he was a spiritual leader and one of the few people in the Early Bronze Age who understood the secrets of metalworking,” she added.

The common grave also contains three polished flint axes and a battle ax made of black dolerite – all of which are on display at the Wiltshire Museum. The strange thing is that they date from the Neolithic period, which means they were already thousands of years old at the time of the burial.

The burial mound dates to between 1850 and 1700 BC and is located on top of a ridge overlooking a river valley that leads to the Stonehenge monoliths.

Gold was first identified on one of the stones in 2000, suggesting they were once used to hammer the precious metal into sheets.

A further four artefacts were also found with traces of gold found to be prehistoric and with impurities consistent with UK Bronze Age goldware.

The discovery adds weight to the idea that this shaman was known for his metalworking skills as well as his spiritual connections. That’s why his community felt it was important to bury him with his personal metalworking tools, scientists believe.

Photo by John Nail:

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