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The Early Stone Age in Biddenham

Palaeolithic tools drawn in the Biddenham Women's Institute scrapbook of 1956 [X535/6]
Palaeolithic tools drawn in the Biddenham Women's Institute scrapbook of 1956 [X535/6]

The earliest traces of human activity in Biddenham are from the Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age. The Bedfordshire Historic Environment Record [HER] contains information on the county’s historic buildings and landscapes and summaries of each entry can now be found online as part of the Heritage Gateway website. One entry [HER 328] notes that in 1861 Palaeolithic implements were found on the north side of Bromham Road. There were about seventy flint items, which were deposited in the British Museum.

Palaeolithic implements have also been found at Deep Spinney [HER 327]. In 1867 when it was in used as a gravel pit, known as Jarvis’ Pit, Palaeolithic implements were found along with mollusc shells and animal remains, clearly the food eaten by the users of the tools. In 1986 archaeological excavation at Deep Spinney confirmed that the site contained Palaeolithic deposits and artefacts. In total a large quantity of axes, a single bead, a single flint core, a large quantity of flint flakes and a large quantity of stone implements have been found.

During fieldwork in the Biddenham Loop [HER 18911] eight concentrations of flint tools belonging to the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, were found. The scatter of finds was along the edge of the terrace of the River Great Ouse. It has been speculated that this area was still wooded at that date and that the hunter-gatherers exploited the river for fish and the forest for hunting game, the bushes at the margins being harvested for berries.

As the drawings above show, Palaeolithic implements have been found at other times. These do not appear to be mentioned in the Historic Environment Record.