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Topic Guide: The Stone Age

    • 'Stone Age' is a term used to describe the long period of time when early humans used tools made out of stone. Stone Age artefacts are often sharp tools or weapons, like this Hand Axe.

      In this topic guide we will investigate some aspects of the Stone Age: When did the Stone Age happen, Stonehenge, tools, houses, animals and art.

      When did the Stone Age happen?

      The Ulster Museum can tell you some of the key dates in the Stone Age – and their website also gives you a chance to ask an expert about it.

      Craven Museum & Art Gallery in Skipton has this handy explanation about the different periods during the Stone Age and what they are called.

      Stonehenge

      One of the most famous monuments in the world is Stonehenge in Wiltshire. The site was used throughout the Stone Age and into the Bronze Age, but nobody really knows what its purpose was. You can take a virtual tour of Stonehenge at the English Heritage website.

      Photograph taken from above Stonehenge, showing the circle of standing stones and the raised earth ditch surrounding it. A tarmac road cuts diagonally across the bottom right corner© English Heritage

      Tools

      Creswell Crags in Derbyshire can help you learn lots about the Stone Age, you can learn about the tools people used and you can even test your survival skills!

      Houses
      Neolithic homes generally had just one room with a central fireplace. Replica houses have been built at Stonehenge, complete with objects like axes and pottery to show visitors what life was like for the people living there. Here you can watch a behind-the-scenes video of how the houses were built:



      Animals
      During the Stone Age people would have hunted beasts like woolly mammoths. You can find out all sorts of things about mammoths with our Top ten mammoth facts.

      Did Stone Age people keep pets? Creswell Crags has some ideas about the relationship between people and animals during the Stone Age.

      Art

      Many of the objects found by archaeologists from the Stone Age are tools of some kind. But this sculpture of swimming reindeer appears to have no practical use at all, suggesting that people living in the Stone Age made art of some sort.

      It’s made of mammoth tusk and was found in a cave in France. It is now kept at the British Museum. You can read more about it and see what ideas people have had for its use on their website.

      The Natural History Museum also has an even older piece of Stone Age art: a reindeer antler carved with an image of a horse.

      Stone Age people also drew on cave walls. Some of the most famous cave paintings are found in a place called Lascaux, France. You can explore the caves virtually on their website.

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