9th May 2012: Visit to Swanscombe Heritage Park


On my way back to Southampton University, I was able to visit the world famous Palaeolithic Swanscombe site (Kent) which was made into a Heritage Park in 2005 and opened by Phil Harding. The park lies in a former gravel quarry known as Barnfield Pit and is very close to the Baker's Hole site to Swanscombe's east. It is also designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a National Nature Reserve (NNR).

The huge steel handaxe sculpture at the entrance to the park is by landscape architects David Robison and Peter Greenstreet, fabrication and installation by Bob Hogben.

The area became important on 29th June 1935, when dentist Alvan T Marston found part of a skull of a young woman; then nine months later, on 15th March 1936 he found a second part of the cranium. A third part of the same skull was found 30th July 1955 by John Wymer around 24m from Marston's two discoveries. The estimated age of the cranium fragments is 200,000 - 300,000 years old, with approximate brain size of 1325cc and bones which are very thick, showing both primitive and modern features, suggesting she was both a descendant of Boxgrove Man and a distant ancestor of the Neanderthals.

Further excavations between 1968-1972 by Dr. John d'Arcy Waechter, recovered more flint tools and confirmed the position of the former shoreline that the bones were found on.

>> Click on either image above to reveal the plague below <<

The Heritage Park is now fully accessible with paths and trails to the key locations (such as the skull find area), useful information plagues and a free car park. Well worth 30-60 minutes walk around, however there are no other facilities on-site.

In 2007 I was very lucky to be presented with a genuine Swanscombe hand-axe, that was found near the skull location.

 

A recent (May 2012) ebay sale of a Swanscombe hand-axe achieved an impressive sale of £1700

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