An archaeologist believes that a wall carved from a cave in South Wales could be the oldest example of rock art in Britain. Faint carvings of a speared reindeer have been found that are believed to have been carved by a hunter-gatherer in the Ice Age more than 14,000 years ago.
The Dr. George Nash (part-time academic at the University of Bristol) who found the carving in Gower's Cave in September 2010, called it “very very exciting”. He commented to the BBC Wales that “it was a strange moment to be in the right place, at the right time and with the right equipment”.
«For 20-odd years I have been bringing students to this cave and talking to them about what was going on there. That day they went back to their cars and the bus and I decided to have a little time to snoop in the cave as I have never had the chance to do it before.”.
«After a couple of minutes I was cleaning in the back of a very strange and uncomfortable recess and a very faint image bounced in front of me, I couldn't believe it«.
The Dr. said that even though the features of the reindeer drawing match many of those found in northern Europe around 4,000-5,000 years later, the discovery of stone tools in the cave in the 1950s could be the key to the true date of the carving.
«This drawing was done with the right hand and the place is very very tight and the engraving has been done by someone with a piece of flint, who has made a classic reindeer design”.
«My colleagues in England have been doing work in Nottinghamshire on the Creswell Crags and have come up with very good dates for a deer and one or two images from around 12,000-14,000 BC. C.”.
«I think this new found carving may be more or less from the same period, or maybe even earlier«.
Experts are working to verify the discovery, although its exact location is being kept secret for now.
In the 1950s, the University of Cambridge excavated there and found around 300-400 pieces of flint dating back to 12,000-14,000 BC. C.
Limestone cliffs along the Gower coast are known for their archaeological significance. The Lady in Red of Paviland, actually the remains of a young man, is the first formal human burial to be found in western Europe. It is believed to be approximately 29,000 years old.
It was discovered in the cave of Goat´s Hole in Paviland on the Gower in 1823 by William Buckland, then professor of geology at the University of Oxford.
Dr. Nash added: “We know from the glacial geology of the area that it was an open area just before the limit of the ice that came under the glaciers 15,000-20,000 years ago and stops about 2 km below the cave site”.
“We know that hunter-gatherer fishermen roamed around this landscape, depending on the season, and that they buried their dead 30,000 years ago and left their mark through an artistic endeavor between 30,000 and 40,000 years ago.”.
The find is now officially dated and verified by experts in the National Museum of Wales and Cadw, however its location will be released to the public in the future.