Down the Rabbit Hole: Bunnies in Wales Dig Up Treasure of 9,000-Year-old Artifacts
Rabbits on the Welsh island of Skokholm have discovered 9,000-year-old prehistoric artifacts beneath the earth.
Social & Lifestyle
Alone on the windswept island Skokholm, wardens have found Stone Age tools and a pottery shard from an unlikely survey plot—down a rabbit burrow.
The finds date to 3,750—9,000 years ago, and include tools for making seal hide clothes and boats and the shard of a funerary urn, suggesting the small island could have been used for ritual burial.
Richard Brown and Giselle Eagle, the only humans on the island since COVID-19 arrived, discovered the first of two “bevelled pebbles” outside of a burrow where, rather than tomb-robbers or artifact hunters, it had been dug up from the ground by the island’s rabbits as they strove to make their underground home.
Snapping a photograph, they sent it to Dr. Toby Driver of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, who replied back that “the photos are clearly of a late Mesolithic ‘bevelled pebble.”
“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,” he added, according to the Skokholm Blog, managed by Brown and Eagle.
“We had our eye in, and it wasn’t long before we found another very likely candidate for a bevelled pebble along Little Bay Wall (again exposed by the digging of Rabbits),” wrote the pair two days later when they happened upon another find.
“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.”
Once again they alerted an expert and received an analysis that the thick-walled pottery shard was part, not of ancient food storage, but rather of a funerary urn. Jody Deacon at the National Museum of Wales told them that they are “common in Ireland and seem to turn up more frequently in the western areas of Wales”.
“[This is the] First Bronze Age burial urn fragment from the west Pembrokeshire islands,” remarked Dr. Driver upon hearing the news. “The prehistory of Skokholm has changed completely in only a few days.”
Similar examples from west Wales dated to about 2,100 and 1,750 BCE, or around 3,750 years ago.