Primitive Living Skills Course (Flint knapping)
The Gower Primitive Living Skills course will bring you closer to experiencing the lives of our Stone age ancestors than you could ever have imagined.
We use the term “Primitive”, not in any derogatory sense, but in recognition of its original meaning. In Latin the Term Primitivus describes something as the first or earliest of its kind.
34,000 years ago the Gower Peninsular was a very different place from what it has become today. Where the Bristol channel now flows there would have been a vast Savannah like plain stretching beyond the area that we now call France. The cliffs of Gower, rising above this open land would have been the perfect place for nomadic Hunter Gatherers to survey this landscape.
These People would have lived on a diet largely composed of the meat of animals such as Mammoth, Deer and Rhino, the bones of which have been found in Caves all over Gower. These stone age people were not always at the top of the food chain however, the bones of animals such as Sabre tooth tiger, cave bear, and Hyena have also been found.
This phase of our history is known as the Paleolithic period. During this time there were no permanent settlements or agriculture in the UK, and the entire population could be counted in the hundreds. For the majority of the year Gower was covered by ice which would eventually cover most of the peninsular for thousands of years. Life would not have been easy for these early hunters. The climate was far colder than today, and the furs and skins of animals would have been essential for survival in this harsh environment. Despite the hardships these people survived using spectacularly refined Bushcraft skills. Many stone tools have been found on Gower as well as the oldest ceremonial burial in western Europe, the Red lady of Paviland (see about section).
As the Ice sheets slowly retreated and the climate began to improve people started to visit Gower once again. The period we call Mesolithic or old stone age is approximately 10,000 years ago. There are several sites on Gower that have been dated to this period, most notably a Flint knapping site on Burry Holm, where large numbers of flint tools have been found in recent excavations. This significant period is when people began to repopulate the UK as the Ice sheets began to retreat. These intrepid explorers would have ventured north from what is now mainland Europe in pursuit of wild Game such as Reindeer. These true explorers produced stone tools of an extremely high standard. The Mesolithic period is generally considered to be the pinnacle of stone tool development.
The Neolithic or new stone age between 3-6 thousand years ago, is when people first began to Farm the land on Gower. The practice of agriculture and animal husbandry made Hunting and gathering less of a priority for the Neolithic people of Gower. Because they could produce food and store it for the winter it was no longer necessary to live a nomadic lifestyle. Permanent settlements were established at various locations on Gower, and the ability to remain in one location gave people the opportunity to create some spectacular monuments that can still be found today. One of these monuments is Arthurs stone on Cefn Bryn.
Practical Archaeology is one of the most fascinating aspects of Bushcraft, and many of those who practice the techniques of our ancestors see themselves as the “Mythbusters” of the Archaelological world. Challenging the preconceived ideas and theories of eminent academics and historians, by actually reconstructing the past can be controversial. But as the saying goes.... “ You can’t make an Omelette without first breaking a few eggs”.
Our primitive living skills courses are taught by some of the most respected and skilled Practical Archaeologists in the UK, and as well as offering scheduled courses we can also accept group bookings for all our courses (6 or more people) . This enables us to tailor a course to the specific requirements of your group.
Skills Covered on our Primitive living Courses include
- Flint Knapping- Making Tools such as Hand Axes, Blades, Awls, Burins, Arrow heads and projectile points, as well as learning the basic principles of making stone tools.
- Arrow making- As well as making the arrow heads, we will teach you how to prepare a complete arrow using stone age method.
- Brain Tanning- This traditional technique is used to make “Buckskin” a soft natural Leather out of deer skin.
- Bow and Atlatl making, as well as hunting techniques.
External Link Red Lady of Paviland