THE remains of animals burnt at extreme temperatures have been confirmed among finds from the Rotherwas Ribbon, the 4,000-year-old archaeological site uncovered by roadbuilding work near Hereford last year.
An initial assessment report prepared for Herefordshire Council and out this week suggests the Ribbon was some sort of ceremonial site, and one of many that early man etched into the surrounding landscape.
Recently, archaeologists working on the southern fringes of Rotherwas found a fire cracked stone surface similar to the Ribbon and links to burnt material like flint and pottery.
Specialist post-excavation assessments of the Ribbon saw that the badly weathered bones of cattle, pigs, dogs, cows and probably sheep showed evidence of burning at more than 800 degrees celsius. A human finger was also found.
Radiocarbon tests are now under way to define the Ribbon’s dates. Right now, the feature is thought to be at least 4,000-years-old, putting it in the Neolithic or Early Bronze ages when farming first became a mainstay of local life.
Flint tools found at the site include finely flaked scrapers for wood working and meat preparation, and “strike-a-lights” to produce sparks against iron pyrites.
The latter struck the assessors as particularly unusual as such strikes were usually kept among personal items and not casually discarded.
Of the 143 pieces of flint found, many also showed evidence of burning and breakage – again, unusual compared to flint found on similar sites.
The report concludes that the Ribbon was a “special monument” hosting ceremonial activity and may be one of several in that area.
Councillor John Jarvis, Herefordshire Council’s cabinet member for environment, said the findings of the report were “very exciting” and work would now begin on the Ribbon’s “unanswered questions” like its actual extent.
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