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Research Items


Giant Hand-Axe from Sheringham, Norfolk. An altogether remarkable and gigantic hand-axe, discovered embedded in the beach below Beeston Hill, Sheringham, by Mr. J. P. T. Burchell, has been figured and described by Mr. J. Reid Moir (Proc. Prehistoric Soc. East Anglia, 7, Pt. 3). The implement measures in its greatest length 15J inches, in greatest width 6J inches, in greatest thickness 5J inches. Its weight is approximately 14 lb. It was derived originally from the base of the Cromer Forest bed, which rests upon the surface of the chalk. The implementiferous bed runs in beneath the Forest Bed strata and the glacial deposits which form the cliff, some 200 ft. in height. The material of the axe is of flint, the colour of the flaked surfaces being jet black. The ridges and outstanding parts are abraded, and it is striated in places. There is a small area of the cortex remaining, which shows a ferruginous staining. It is a specimen of the ‘platessiform’ type, that is, rhom-boidal in section in the anterior portion and showing the remains of both the dorsal and ventral planes or platforms of the rostro-carinate stage. In two other specimens cited for purposes of comparison, coming from East and West Runton, one is clearly of the “‘platessiform’ type, but the ventral plane is partly transformed into a cutting edge, while the second is equally clearly of the ‘batiform’ type, in which the section through the anterior portion is triangular in section, the lower angles of the triangle representing the cutting edges. Hand-axes showing these characteristics have been discovered not only in England but also widely distributed over the earth's surface. The numerous specimens discovered in the basement bed, belonging to the early Pleistocene epoch, are as highly specialised as are those of any later prehistoric period and represent a very definite and necessary stage in implemental development. No adequate explanation of the purpose which the gigantic size of the Sheringham axe could serve has been offered.

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Research Items. Nature 135, 963–965 (1935).

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