Tuesday, 1 January 2013

British Oblique Flint Arrowheads

Oblique Arrowheads along with many other kinds are available from our website www.prehistorics.co.uk

Oblique arrowheads were first manufactured in the Mesolithic Era though they were often quite crude and consisted of little more than a basic triangle. The use of this type arrowhead continued through the Neolithic Era and to the early Bronze Age with designs getting more varied and sophisticated. Arrowheads of this kind are usually divided into two broad categories called Irish and British then subtypes after that. Irish Oblique Arrowheads tended to be longer and have no formed barb while the shorter British ones often had well defined barbs. Both British and Irish kinds are found in the UK.

   Left: Irish style..... Right: British style

Oblique arrowheads with a range of different 
stem sizes. Left no stem to right long tailed.
The two arrowheads on the left have no formed 
barb the two on the right have prominent barbs.

While most oblique arrowheads were made for hunting and shooting in England two high quality varieties have been found, in Yorkshire a style known as ripple flaked has been discovered, ripple flaking involves taking a series of regular long thin flakes across the arrowhead to create a decorative pattern. It is extraordinarily difficult to do and even modern knappers with modern tools cannot match the some of the prehistoric Yorkshire examples. Another variety is known as the Long Tailed Oblique, these are regular oblique arrowheads only a with an extremely long stem. This again requires great skill, not only taking a sufficiently large and flat flint flake off a nodule but sculpting it without breaking the stem. Perhaps the finest example of any Oblique arrowhead in the world was found at Marden Henge in Devizes, how the knapper got that stem so fine is a mystery. Long Tails are completely impractical for shooting and Ripple Flaking so special both were made for other uses than shooting, whether as an ornamental piece of art of great value to its owner, for spiritual significance or perhaps as grave goods. 

Left: Fine example of ripple flaked piece of flint found on the Yorkshire Dales, flakes 3cm in length and 
2-3mm wide have uniformly been taken across the surface of the piece of flint. No modern knapper could produce work this fine. 

Top Right: Long Tailed Oblique Arrowhead found at Marden Henge in Devizes, the finest example of these arrowhead types ever found. 

Bottom Right: Ripple flaked Oblique arrowhead found near Stonehenge with a very short stem.

An Oblique Arrowhead is hafted on to an arrow by cutting a groove along the wood. The stem of the arrowhead is them glued in that groove and finally it is bound with sinew for additional strength. 

Photos of original arrowheads from,
Past 66
Eternal Idol website
Bordley Township Project

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