Site of Mesolithic axe and bead factory, Nab Head

Site of Mesolithic axe and bead factory, Nab Head, near St Brides

Archaeologists have found many thousands of flint axe heads on this promontory, indicating that it was a major manufacturing site in the Mesolithic period, c.10.500 years ago. Also found here were many decorative beads, along with tools used to make the valuables.

The first flints here were noticed after storms had eroded topsoil in 1880. In the 1920s a figurine was found alongside a group of beads. A dig in 1979 brought to light no fewer than 12,000 flints!

Most of the flints were made by shaping pebbles from the coast, which at the time was c.6km away from here. The raised ground here would have provided good views across the surrounding landscape, but no remains of human settlement have been found on the land which hasn’t been lost to coastal erosion. Tools found here include blades, drill bits and scrapers for cleaning skins.

More than 700 beads have been found at Nab Head. They are tiny pebbles, about 2mm to 3mm in thickness, with holes drilled through the middle. Beads have been found at other Mesolithic sites in Britain, but not in such large quantities as here. Drilling the minute holes with the tools available would have been skilled work. It’s thought the beads were status symbols, and may have been traded between groups of people in different areas.

With thanks to Dyfed Archaeological Trust and the National Monuments Record of Wales

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