An Archaeology of Trafford in 12 Objects Part 1: Neolithic Arrowhead, Timperley

The first item in this festive look at the archaeology and history of Trafford in 12 objects is one of the oldest stone tools from the area: a leaf-shaped arrowed from Timperley. This was excavated in 1996 on the site of Timperley Old Hall by the South Trafford Archaeological Group. 31mm by 47mm in size it is made from an orange/brown stone known as chert. It’s been fashioned by at least 20 blows on each face to form the arrow, and almost certainly it would have been tied to a wooden shaft to form a hunting spear.

This leaf-shaped arrowhead dates from the later Neolithic, roughly 3500 to 2500 years BCE, when farming was being introduced into Britain. The nearest such settlements to Timperley are at Tatton Park and Manchester Airport, both around the edges of the Bollin Valley a few kilometres to the south and east of Timperley. So what is such an item doing Timperley?

Excavated from beneath the site of the later medieval moat, this part of Trafford was, 5000 years ago, lay on a clay ridge, aligned west to east, 1km at its widest and 1.5km long, and rising to 30m above sea level. The former Hale mossland lies against this ridge to the south, along with Timperley Brook, which also marks the western end of the ridge. The eastern end is defined by a small chine making access from the east difficult until recent times. The Timperley Old Hall area was thus a landscape defined by wetlands and streams/

The arrowhead was one of more than 30 items from the late Neolithic and Bronze Age, including fine examples of projectile points in addition to knives, scrapers, and boring points, many showing signs of wear and re-tooling. Three pot boilers, stones that had been heated and then dropped into water-filled pits or containers to boil the liquid, were also recovered from the same part of the site. The presence of different types of tools from two periods suggests re-use of this south facing slope above the moss, and not just a single day’s activity. Perhaps the lost leaf-shaped arrowed was used for summer hunting along the ridge to the north of Hale Moss and Timperley Brook.

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