A REMARKABLE hoard of prehistoric artefacts more than three times as old as the British Camp on the Malvern Hills, has been unearthed on farmland at Suckley.

Dating back to around 8,000BC, they were dug up by business management expert Dr Gerry Ronan while walking his family dogs.

Over the past couple of years, the department head from Swansea University has accumulated nearly 3,000 items, ranging from tiny pieces of flint to a Neolithic axe head.

It all began one day when he was walking his pair of black Cocker spaniels alongside a newly ploughed field.

“I saw some flints had come to the surface and just out of interest picked a few up,” he said.

“I knew what they were because they were white and thin. Not long after, the museum at Worcester held an open day, so I took them along.”

The flints were identified as from the Mesolithic period, which followed the melting of the ice, and is generally considered to be between 9,000BC and 4,000BC. This was the heyday of the free ranging hunter-gatherers and long before Mankind turned to farming and a more stationary lifestyle.

The flints were important enough to be reported to Tom Brindle and Angie Bolton, of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, which is run by the British Museum, and Dr Ronan began his own research to discover more.

“My very amateur fieldwalking survey has recorded a considerable Mesolithic flint scatter and, to a much lesser extent, a number of Neolithic stone artefacts,”

he said.

“It clearly shows there were people living around here up to 10,000 years ago and that’s exciting really because I don’t think it’s been recorded before.

“I found three clearly identifiable clusters of about 40 yards diameter within a quarter of a mile radius of each other, each yielding about the same quantity of flint. Two of the sites are close to a stream in the lee of a valley with the third in a prominent and rather exposed location cresting a ridge.

“Altogether I have found nearly 3,000 pieces, of which about 15 per cent show signs of burning, suggesting domestic encampments.

The range of these Mesolithic inhabitants is suggested by the fact that flint is not available within 70 miles of these sites.”

During his searches, a much smaller quantity of Neolithic artefacts has also been recovered.

These include two pressure- flaked bifacial tanged arrowheads, one with a single barb, a pot boiler (cooking stone), several scrapers and a polished igneous stone axehead.

Dr Ronan has been known to bring back 200 pieces a time from his dog walks as he continues to locate, record, identify and catalogue the sites and the surrounding area.