Giselle Eagle and Richard Brown, the only two humans on the windswept island Skokholm since the outbreak of COVID-19, recently found Stone Age tools and a pottery shard in a rabbit burrow. The items, including the shard of a funerary urn and tools used to make seal hide clothes and boats, date back to 3,750-9,000 years ago. The finds suggest the small island could have been used for ritual burial.
Eagle and Brown discovered the first of two “beveled pebbles” outside a burrow. The island’s rabbits dug the pebble up from the ground to make their underground home. Eagle and Brown snapped a photo of the pebble and sent it to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Dr. Driver responded by saying, “The photos are clearly of a late Mesolithic ‘beveled pebble.’” He added, “These are common and distinctive finds amongst flint scatters of this age found on coastal sites all the way from [northern] France up to western Scotland, and also on some northern English coasts.”
When Eagle and Brown came across the pottery shard, they wrote, “We had our eye in, and it wasn’t long before we found another very likely candidate for a beveled pebble along Little Bay Wall (again exposed by the digging of Rabbits). Although we couldn’t find any more stones at the original site in the lee of the knoll, we did find a piece of pottery which to our (very) untrained eyes looked old.”
Upon their second discovery, the pair again reached out to an expert, who told them that the thick-walled pottery shard was a part of a funerary urn. Jody Deacon, who works at the National Museum of Wales, informed the pair that the pottery shards are “common in Ireland and seem to turn up more frequently in the western areas of Wales.” About the pottery shard, Dr. Toby Driver said, “[This is the] First Bronze Age burial urn fragment from the west Pembrokeshire islands. The prehistory of Skokholm has changed completely in only a few days.”
Similar finds from west Wales dated back to around 2,100 and 1,750 BCE, or 3,750 years ago.