The Old Stone Age in Bedford
The Old Stone Age, or Palaeolithic, lasted from the appearance of modern humans, around 2.5 million years ago, to about 8000 BC and was succeeded by the Middle Stone Age, or Mesolithic. At this remote time, humans began to make stone tools and began to domesticate animals in agriculture.
Palaeolithic tools have been found in at least seven locations in Bedford, as described by the Heritage Gateway web site. These finds were as follows:
- At least five hand-axes were found at Fenlake and transferred to Bedford Museum;
- Three more hand-axes were found at New Fenlake and, again, transferred to Bedford Museum;
- Two hand-axes found at Summerhouse Hill, near Cardington, were given to the British and Ashmolean Museums;
- An “unknown quantity” of tools were found at or near Cauldwell Street;
- A hand-axe was found at The Avenue, off Woburn Road, and transferred to the British Museum;
- A hand-axe was found in de Parys Avenue in 1884 and transferred to Bedford Museum;
- A hand-axe found at Newnham was also deposited with the British Museum.
With the exception of de Parys Avenue, which is only half a mile or so distant, all these sites are very close to or bordering the River Great Ouse. At that time it seems that the rivers were often the principal highways allowing relatively easy travel. It is sobering to think that one of more of these tools may have been used in butchering a mammoth.