Finds tray – Neolithic flint chisel

This unusual stone tool was recently discovered in a back garden in Hastings, East Sussex. It is a Neolithic polished flint chisel, or possibly axehead, that appears to have been reworked into a cutting or scraping tool.

The flint is sub-rectangular in shape, with a lozengiform cross-section (rhombus- or diamond-shaped), and while one end has been nicely worked into a curve, the other end has broken off. On one half of the flint, the tool is smooth and well-polished with a straight edge. Analysis of the images by Sussex archaeologist Chris Butler suggests that this was the original shape of the tool, polished into a chisel (or possibly an axehead, based on it being a bit thicker in shape towards the butt end). The other half of the tool is no longer smooth, and instead has many deep coincoidal rippling rough-outs (that is, fractures producing a scalloped appearance), with one side worked at a lower angle than the other to create a curved edge, which may have been done using a hard hammer. As the butt end was broken at some point, it may be that instead of being discarded, these changes were made so that the flint could instead continue to be used as a cutting or scraping tool.

Image: John Poulter

It is suggested that the modifications may have been done in the early Bronze Age, based on the difference in patination seen between the original and reworked surfaces (suggesting that a period of time had passed between the two uses), as well as evidence for the possible use of hard hammer-working and the fact that this was not the first time Neolithic objects were repurposed during this period.

For more information about this flint, see or search for SUSS-268DD1 on the PAS database.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is an initiative to encourage the recording of archaeological objects found by members of the public in England and Wales. For more information on the Scheme, and to browse its database of more than 1.5 million finds, visit Information for this find was provided by Jane Clark, Finds Liaison Officer – Sussex.

Text: Kathryn Krakowka