Ice Age art engravings discovered in Britain

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The Independent Online

The largest collection of Ice Age cave art in northern Europe, west of Russia, has been found on the border of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

The largest collection of Ice Age cave art in northern Europe, west of Russia, has been found on the border of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Fourteen thousand year-old engravings of a horse, a wild cow, two ibex and four birds have been found by British and Spanish Stone Age art experts on the walls of three caves at Creswell Crags near Worksop.

Palaeolithic art has never before been discovered in Britain, and it raises the possibility that engravings may be undiscovered in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Poland.

Until now, the major groups of Ice Age cave art have been found in southern France, Spain and Sicily. The most famous - Lascaux in the Dordogne, France - was found in 1940.

Seven of the eight engravings at Creswell were found - using special "oblique light" search techniques - over the past five days. The first, an ibex, was found last month.

A number of symbols and straight lines were also found engraved on the cave walls.

Archaeologists suspect the art was produced by nomadic hunter-gatherers who entered Britain from what is now Belgium or the Netherlands across the grassy plains of what is now the North Sea.

The art is the most northerly example of Ice Age cave art found in western Europe - about 300 miles north ofcaves near Rouen in northern France and 600 miles north of Lascaux. The style is similar to the Dordogne cave art.

Flint, bone, mammoth ivory and reindeer antler tools found at Creswell are similar in style to others found in southern France and northern Spain.

The art was found by three archaeologists, Dr Paul Bahn, Britain's leading Ice Age art specialist, Dr Paul Pettitt from Oxford University, and Dr Sergio Ripoll, a top Spanish authority on Palaeolithic art, and was funded by English Heritage.

Dr Bahn said: "This is one of the most important finds ever made in early British prehistory." John Humble, the Inspector of Ancient Monuments for English Heritage, said "The text books say that there is no cave art in Britain. These will now have to be re-written."

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