Creswellian culture

The Creswellian is a British Upper Palaeolithic culture named after the type site of Creswell Crags in Derbyshire by Dorothy Garrod in 1926.[3] It is also known as the British Late Magdalenian.[4] The Creswellian is dated between 13,000–11,800 BP[1] and was followed by the most recent ice age, the Younger Dryas, when Britain was at times unoccupied by humans.[5]

Creswellian culture
Church Hole Cave
Geographical rangeGreat Britain
PeriodUpper Paleolithic
Datesbetween 13,000–11,800 BP[1]
Type siteCreswell Crags
Major sitesGough's Cave, Kents Cavern
Cresswell point
Cast of a Cresswell point, from Creswell Crags, at Derby Museum.[2]


The term Creswellian appeared for the first time in 1926 in Dorothy Garrod's The Upper Palaeolithic Age in Britain. This was the first academic publication[6] by the woman who became in 1939 the first woman ever elected as a professor at Cambridge.[7] It is also the first monograph about the Upper Paleolithic of Britain at the national level and it remained the only one on the subject for half a century. Garrod suggested that the British variant of the Magdalenian industry is different enough to create a specific name:[6]

I propose tentatively "Creswellian", since Creswell Crags is the station in which it is found in greatest abundance and variety.

— Dorothy Garrod, The Upper Palaeolithic Age in Britain, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1926, p. 194.

The definition of Creswellian was refined since then and now refers exclusively, in the British context, to the Late Magdalenian-style industry.


Diagnostic tools used to identify the period include trapezoidal backed blades called Cheddar points, variant forms known as Creswell points, and smaller bladelets. Other tool types include end scrapers made from long, straight blades. A special preparation technique was employed to remove blades from a core through striking in a single direction, leaving a distinct 'spur' on the platform. The tools were made using a soft hammerstone or an antler hammer.

Other finds include Baltic amber, mammoth ivory and animal teeth and bone. These were used to make harpoons, awls, beads and needles. Unusual bevelled ivory rods, known as sagaies have been found at Gough's Cave in Somerset and Kent's Cavern in Devon.

Twenty eight sites producing Cheddar points are known in England and Wales though none have so far been found in Scotland or Ireland, regions which it is thought were not colonised by humans until later. Most sites are caves but there is increasing evidence for open air activity and that preferred sources of flint were exploited and that tools travelled distances of up to 100 miles from their sources. Some of the flint at Gough's Cave came from the Vale of Pewsey in Wiltshire whilst non-local seashells and amber from the North Sea coast also indicate a highly mobile population. This matches evidence from the Magdelanian cultures elsewhere in Europe and may suggest that exchange of goods and the sending out of specialised expeditions seeking raw materials may have been practised. Analysis of debitage at occupation sites suggests that flint nodules were reduced in size at source and the lighter blades carried by Creswellian groups as 'toolkits' in order to reduce the weight carried.

Comparison of flint from Kent's Cavern and Creswell Crags has led some archaeologists to believe that they were made by the same group.

Food species eaten by Creswellian hunters focused on the wild horse (Equus ferus) or the red deer (Cervus elaphus), probably depending on the season, although the Arctic hare, reindeer, mammoth, Saiga antelope, wild cow, brown bear, lynx, Arctic fox and wolf were also exploited.

Highly fragmentary fossil bones were found in Gough's Cave at Cheddar. They had marks that suggested actions of skinning, dismembering, defleshing and marrow extraction. The excavations of 1986-1987 noted that human and animal remains were mixed, with no particular distribution or arrangement of the human bones. They also show the signs of the same treatments as the animal bones. These findings were interpreted in the sense of a nutritional cannibalism. However, slight differences from other sites in skull treatment leave open the possibility of elements of ritual cannibalism.[8]

See also


  1. ^ a b Robert Hosfield, Vanessa Straker and Paula Gardiner with contributions from Anthony Brown, Paul Davies, Ralph Fyfe, Julie Jones and Heather Tinsley (2007). "Palaeolithic and Mesolithic". In Webster, C.J. (ed.). The Archaeology of South West England. Somerset County Council. p. 36. There are numerous radiocarbon determinations on human remains, butchered animal bones and organic artefacts which date the Creswellian to between 13,000-11.800 BP (Jacobi 2004).CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ The museum's exhibit label says "Cresswell points were probably hafted knife blades", Derby Museum, read July 2011
  3. ^ Davies, William; et al. (1999). Dorothy Garrod and the progress of the Palaeolithic: studies in the prehistoric archaeology of the Near East and Europe. Oxbow Books. p. 282.
  4. ^ Pettit, Paul; White, Mark (2012). The British Palaeolithic: Human Societies at the Edge of the Pleistocene World. Abingdon, UK: Routledge. p. 440. ISBN 978-0-415-67455-3.
  5. ^ Stringer, Chris (2011). "The Changing Landscapes of the Earliest Human Occupation of Britain and Europe". In Ashton, N.; et al. (eds.). The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain. Elsevier. p. 1. ISBN 9780444535979.
  6. ^ a b Kathryn Price « One vision, one faith, one woman: Dorothy Garrod and the Crystallisation of Prehistory », in Great Prehistorians: 150 Years of Palaeolithic Research, 1859-2009, London, Lythic Studies Society, 2009, p. 141-142.
  7. ^ Pamela Jane Smith, « From ‘small, dark and alive’ to ‘cripplingly shy’: Dorothy Garrod as the first woman Professor at Cambridge » Archived 28 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine, University of Cambridge, 2005. Accessed 6 juin 2011.
  8. ^ P. Andrews, Y. Fernández-Jalvo, « Cannibalism in Britain: Taphonomy of the Creswellian (Pleistocene) faunal and human remains from Gough's Cave (Somerset, England) », Bulletin of the Natural History Museum: Geology, n° 58, 2003, pp. 59-81 (doi:10.1017/S096804620300010X).


  • R. N. E. Barton, R. M. Jacobi, D. Stapert, & M. J. Street (2003) The Late-glacial reoccupation of the British Isles and the Creswellian Journal of Quaternary Studies Volume 18, Issue 7 October 2003, Pp 631–643 [1]
  • Lynden Cooper A Creswellian campsite, Newtown Linford Leic.Arch. Sept 2002 11/10/02 7:55 AM Page 78 [2]
  • Campbell, J.B. 1977 The Upper Palaeolithic of Britain: a study of man and nature during the Late Ice Age. Oxford : Clarendon press.
  • Garrod, D.A.E. 1926 The Upper Palaeolithic Age in Britain. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Grant M & Harding P, Farndon Fields, Nottinghamshire: in situ multi-phased Late Upper Palaeolithic activity on the floodplain [3]
  • Jacobi, R.M. 1991 The Creswellian, Creswell and Cheddar. In: Barton, N., Roberts, A.J. and Roe, D.A. (eds) The Late Glacial in north-west Europe: human adaptation and environmental change at the end of the Pleistocene. London: Council for British Archaeology Research Report 77, 128-140.
  • Jenkinson R.D.S. and Gilbertson, D.D. 1984 In the Shadow of Extinction: A Quaternary Archaeology and Palaeoecology of the Lake, Fissures and Smaller Caves at Creswell Crags, S.S.S.I. Sheffield: University of Sheffield, Department of Prehistory and Archaeology.
  • Ward T & Saville A ‘‘Howburn Farm: excavating Scotland's first people. Current Archaeology, Issue 243, June 2010 pp18–23. [4]
A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery

A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery, or the full title, A Philosopher giving a Lecture on the Orrery in which a lamp is put in place of the Sun, is a 1766 painting by Joseph Wright of Derby depicting a lecturer giving a demonstration of an orrery to a small audience. It is now in the Derby Museum and Art Gallery The painting preceded his similar An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump (National Gallery, London).

The first of Wright's candlelit masterpieces, Three Persons Viewing the Gladiator by Candlelight, was painted in 1765, and showed three men studying a small copy of the "Borghese Gladiator". The Gladiator was greatly admired; but his next painting, The Orrery, caused a greater stir, as it replaced the Classical subject at the centre of the scene with one of a scientific nature. Wright's depiction of the awe produced by scientific "miracles" marked a break with previous traditions in which the artistic depiction of such wonder was reserved for religious events, since to Wright the marvels of the technological age were as awe-inspiring as the subjects of the great religious paintings.In both of these works, the candlelit setting had a realist justification. Viewing sculpture by candlelight, when the contours showed well, and there might even be an impression of movement from the flickering light, was a fashionable practice described by Goethe. In the orrery demonstration the shadows cast by the lamp representing the Sun were an essential part of the display. But there seems no reason other than heightened drama to stage the air pump experiment in a room lit by a single candle, and in two later paintings of the subject by Charles-Amédée-Philippe van Loo the lighting is normal.

A Philosopher by Lamplight

A Philosopher by lamplight (also known as A Hermit Studying Anatomy) is a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby. It is not known when Wright painted the picture, but it was first exhibited in 1769 in London with the Society of Artists. This was one of the earliest of many lamplight or candlelight paintings and portraits for which Wright is famed.

Dovedale by Moonlight

Dovedale by Moonlight, 1784, is one of five paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby which uses the picturesque valley of Dovedale as its subject. These paintings were sometimes made as pairs with one showing the view by day and the other by moonlight. Wright admitted that he had not observed this scene directly, "Moon lights & fire lights are but a sort of work with me for I cant with impunity go out at night and study the former, & the latter I have seen but once, and at a time too, when I thought not of painting such effects."

Farndon, Nottinghamshire

Farndon is a small village and civil parish on the Fosse road, 2.5 miles (4 km) south-west of Newark-on-Trent, on the banks of the River Trent. The population of the civil parish as of the 2011 census is 2,405. The A46 previously ran through the village until the development of a new dual carriageway bypass. The name Farndon means "Fern Hill". It is thought to be the site of the Roman fort Ad Pontem or "the place by the bridges." The parish church of St. Peter was built in Elizabethan times, and thought to be the third such church built on the same site since Saxon times.

Federmesser culture

Federmesser group is an archaeological umbrella term

including the late Upper Paleolithic to Mesolithic cultures of the Northern European Plain, dating to between 14,000 and 12,800 years ago (the late Magdalenian). It is closely related to the Tjongerian culture, as both have been suggested.

It includes the Tjongerian sites at Lochtenrek in the Frisian part of the Netherland, spanning the area of Belgium, the Netherlands, northern France, northern Germany and Poland (Tarnowian and Witowian cultures). It is also closely related to the Creswellian culture to the west and the Azilian to the south. The name is derived from the characteristic small backed flint blades, in German termed Federmesser ("quill knife"). It is succeeded by the Ahrensburg culture after 12,800 BP.

Grotto in the Gulf of Salerno

Grotto in the Gulf of Salerno is the subject of at least four paintings completed by Joseph Wright of Derby following his visit there in 1774. The paintings show the different lighting at different times of the day.

Hengistbury Head

Hengistbury Head () is a headland jutting into the English Channel between Bournemouth and Mudeford in the English county of Dorset. It is a site of international importance in terms of its archaeology and is scheduled as an Ancient Monument.

Declared a Local Nature Reserve in 1990, the head and its surroundings form part of the Christchurch Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest.

It is also a Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area, an Environmentally Sensitive Area and a Site of Nature Conservation Interest. The name "Hengistbury Head" refers to the immediate area; the elevated portion is called Warren Hill.

There has been human activity on the site since the Upper Palaeolithic. During the Victorian era, it was heavily quarried, and in recent years tourism has become significant – it receives more than one million visitors annually. The various habitats on the Head provide a home for many plants, birds and insects, some of them rare and critically endangered. Erosion remains a threat to the site, although long-term projects are intended to secure it for the future.

History of Norfolk

Norfolk is a rural county in the East of England. Knowledge of prehistoric Norfolk is limited by a lack of evidence — although the earliest finds are from the end of the Lower Paleolithic period. Communities have existed in Norfolk since the last Ice Age and tools, coins and hoards such as those found at Snettisham indicate the presence of an extensive and industrious population.

The Iceni tribe inhabited the region prior to the Roman conquest of Britain in 43 AD, after which they built roads, forts, villas and towns. Boudica's rebellion in 60 AD, caused by the imposition of direct rule by the Romans, was followed by order and peace, which lasted until the Roman armies left Britain in 410 AD. The subsequent arrival of the Anglo-Saxons caused the loss of much Roman and British culture in Norfolk. It is known from external evidence from excavations and place-names that by c. 800 AD all Norfolk had been settled and the first towns had emerged. Norfolk was the northern half of the Kingdom of East Anglia and was ruled by the Anglo-Saxon Wuffing dynasty. Our knowledge of several Wuffings is scant, as few historical documents of the period have survived.

Under the Normans, Norwich emerged as the hub of the region. With steady growth and strong overseas links it became an important mediaeval city, but it suffered from internal tensions, unsanitary conditions and disastrous fires. Mediaeval Norfolk was the mostly densely populated and the most productive agricultural region in the country. Land was cultivated intensively and the wool trade was sustained by huge flocks. Other industries such as peat extraction were important. Norfolk was a prosperous county and possessed a wealth of monastic establishments and parish churches.

Indian Widow

Indian Widow is a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby, completed in late 1783 or early 1784 and first shown in his solo exhibition in London in 1785. The painting is now on display at Derby Museum and Art Gallery, Derby, England.

Miravan Breaking Open the Tomb of his Ancestors

Miravan Breaking Open the Tomb of his Ancestors is a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby originally completed in 1772 .

Northern England

Northern England, also known as the North of England or simply the North, is the northern part of England, considered as a single cultural area. It extends from the Scottish border in the north to near the River Trent in the south, although precise definitions of its southern extent vary. Northern England approximately comprises three statistical regions: the North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. These have a combined population of around 14.9 million as of the 2011 Census and an area of 37,331 km2 (14,414 sq mi). Northern England contains much of England's national parkland but also has large areas of urbanisation, including the conurbations of Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Teesside, Tyneside, Wearside, and South and West Yorkshire.

The region has been controlled by many groups, from the Brigantes, the largest Brythonic kingdom of Great Britain, to the Romans, to Anglo-Saxons and Danes. After the Norman conquest in 1066, the Harrying of the North brought destruction. The area experienced Anglo-Scottish border fighting until the unification of Britain under the Stuarts, with some parts changing hands between England and Scotland many times. Many of the innovations of the Industrial Revolution began in Northern England, and its cities were the crucibles of many of the political changes that accompanied this social upheaval, from trade unionism to Manchester Capitalism. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the economy of the North was dominated by heavy industry such as weaving, shipbuilding, steelmaking and mining. The deindustrialisation that followed in the second half of the 20th century hit Northern England hard, and many towns remain deprived compared with those in Southern England.

Urban renewal projects and the transition to a service economy have resulted in strong economic growth in some parts of Northern England, but a definite North–South divide remains both in the economy and the culture of England. Centuries of migration, invasion and labour have shaped Northern culture, and the region retains distinctive dialects, music and cuisine.

Prehistoric Cumbria

Prehistoric Cumbria describes that part of north-west England, subsequently the county of Cumbria, prior to the coming of the Romans. Barrowclough puts the archaeological record of the county (as of 2010) at '443 stone tools, 187 metal objects and 134 pots', plus the various monuments such as henges, stone circles, and the like. The survival of these objects has been influenced by processes such as the rise in sea levels on the west coast, erosion, deposition practices, industrial and agricultural development, and the changing interests and capabilities of antiquarians and archaeologists.

The first permanent inhabitants of the Cumbria region were based in caves during the Mesolithic era. The Neolithic saw the construction of monuments and the running of the axe 'factory' from which stone axes were carried around the country. The Bronze Age saw continuity with the Neolithic way of living and Iron Age Cumbria saw the establishment of the Celtic tribes - possibly those called the Carvetii and Setantii by the Romans.

The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus

The Alchemist Discovering Phosphorus is a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby originally completed in 1771 then reworked in 1795. The full title of the painting is The Alchymist, in Search of the Philosopher's Stone, Discovers Phosphorus, and prays for the successful Conclusion of his operation, as was the custom of the Ancient Chymical Astrologers. It has been suggested that The Alchymist refers to the discovery of phosphorus by the Hamburg alchemist Hennig Brand in 1669. This story was often printed in popular chemical books in Wright's lifetime, and was widely known.

The Blacksmith's Shop

The Blacksmith's Shop is a recurring theme of five paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby. The version in his home town was originally completed in 1771.

The Captive (painting)

The Captive, from Sterne is a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby completed in 1774 and now in the National Gallery of Canada. Sterne's Captive, first exhibited by the artist in 1778, is a similar painting by Wright in the Derby Museum and Art Gallery. The latter painting resulted in a rare engraving, as its purchaser commissioned a print run of only twenty copies before the copper printing plate was destroyed. In 2012, Derby Museum commissioned another Captive painting from Emma Tooth.

The Captive King

The Captive King is a sketch by Joseph Wright of Derby completed in 1772 or 1773. It depicts the French nobleman Guy de Lusignan held prisoner by Saladin. The sketch is thought to have been a preparation for the now-lost painting Guy de Lusignan in Prison.

The Earthstopper

Earthstopper on the Banks of the Derwent is a painting by Joseph Wright of Derby originally completed in 1773. The scene shows a man digging at nighttime beside the River Derwent in Derbyshire.

Thomas Borrow and Ann Borrow

Thomas Borrow and Ann Borrow are two paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby from 1762-63.

Upper Paleolithic

The Upper Paleolithic (or Upper Palaeolithic, Late Stone Age) is the third and last subdivision of the Paleolithic or Old Stone Age. Very broadly, it dates to between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago (the beginning of the Holocene), according to some theories coinciding with the appearance of behavioral modernity in early modern humans, until the advent of the Neolithic Revolution and agriculture.

Anatomically modern humans (i.e. Homo sapiens) are believed to have emerged out of Africa around 200,000 years ago, although these lifestyles changed very little from that of archaic humans of the Middle Paleolithic, until about 50,000 years ago, when there was a marked increase in the diversity of artefacts.

This period coincides with the expansion of modern humans from Africa throughout Asia and Eurasia, which contributed to the extinction of the Neanderthals.

The Upper Paleolithic has the earliest known evidence of organized settlements, in the form of campsites, some with storage pits. Artistic work blossomed, with cave painting, petroglyphs, carvings and engravings on bone or ivory. The first evidence of human fishing is also found, from artefacts in places such as Blombos cave in South Africa. More complex social groupings emerged, supported by more varied and reliable food sources and specialized tool types. This probably contributed to increasing group identification or ethnicity.The peopling of Australia most likely took place before c. 60 ka. Europe was peopled after c. 45 ka.

Anatomically modern humans are known to have expanded northward into Siberia as far as the 58th parallel by about 45 ka (Ust'-Ishim man).

The Upper Paleolithic is divided by the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), during about 25 to 15 ka. The peopling of the Americas occurred during this time, with East and Central Asia populations reaching the Bering land bridge after about 35 ka, and expanding into the Americas by about 15 ka.

In Western Eurasia, the Paleolithic eases into the so-called Epipaleolithic or Mesolithic from the end of the LGM, beginning 15 ka. The Holocene glacial retreat begins 11.7 ka (10th millennium BC), falling well into the Old World Epipaleolithic, and marking the beginning of the earliest forms of farming in the Fertile Crescent.

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