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Crossrail archaeologists uncover Neolithic tool factory in east London

11:59 08 August 2013

A flint tool found at North Woolwich Crossrail site

A flint tool found at North Woolwich Crossrail site

Crossrail/Mike Tunnicliffe

Rare evidence of humans living by the Thames 9,000 years ago has been uncovered by Crossrail archaeologists in east London.

Roman horseshoe found at Liverpool St Crossrail siteRoman horseshoe found at Liverpool St Crossrail site

The discovery of a Mesolithic tool-making factory which included 150 pieces of flint, among them blades, were found at Crossrail’s tunnelling worksite in North Woolwich.

Archaeologists believe prehistoric Londoners were using the site to test and prepare river cobbles to make flint tools.

“This unique find reveals evidence of humans returning to Britain and in particular the Thames after a long absence during the Ice Age,” said Crossrail lead archaeologist Jay Carve.

“It is one of a handful of archaeology sites uncovered that confirms humans lived along the Thames at this time.

Gold coin pendant found at Liverpool St Crossrail siteGold coin pendant found at Liverpool St Crossrail site

“The concentration of flint pieces shows this was an exceptionally important location for materials to make tools that were used by early inhabitants of London.”

Archaeologists have also discovered their first piece of gold in the £16 billion Crossrail construction project, a 16th century coin used as a pendent which has been found at the Liverpool Street site.

They previously uncovered human remains at the same site in 2011 from a 17th century cemetery attached to Bedlam Hospital and from earlier Roman burial grounds.

An exceptionally well made Roman road has been unearthed where a strange find of human bone in the foundations has surprised archaeologists. Roman horse shoes have also been found.

The bone is suspected to have come from a nearby Roman cemetery and was found in the layers of rammed earth, clay and brushwood used for the foundations of the road.

The archaeologists are hoping to uncover more of the road when Crossrail starts large-scale excavations to remove 3,000 skeletons from the 17th Century burial ground next year, along with foundations of Roman buildings that stood alongside it.

Craftsmen appeared to have used burial grounds for fly-tipping during the 1600s, providing archaeologists today with a unique understanding of how east London manufacturers made expensive goods for the wealthy.

The finds include rare and exotic tortoise shell and elephant teeth used to make expensive fans for London’s wealthy.

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