Stonehenge Ancient Tools Point to More Advanced Society Than Known?

Stonehenge Ancient Tools Represent a 4,000-Year-Old Goldsmith’s Toolkit, Archaeologists at the University of Leicester Said.

Dec 18, 2022By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Stonehenge Ancient Tools
Artifacts found in the Upton Lovell G2a Bronze Age burial displayed in the Wiltshire museum in Devizes, England. (Journal of Antiquity)


Stonehenge Ancient Tools look like flint cups and axes from the Neolithic period. Over time, they have been a real puzzle for archaeologists. It all started with their finding 200 years ago. Now archaeologists are studying them again, and four are under examination for the first time.

Stonehenge Ancient Tools and the Making of Gold Objects

Stonehenge Ancient Tools
Grave goods from the Upton Lovell burial site on display at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. Photograph: Wiltshire Museum, Devizes


Archaeologists determined mysterious items found at a burial site are part of the toolkit of a shaman. It is said he made countless gold treasures 4,000 years ago. Also, archaeologists applied contemporary technologies to the research. It includes examining the tool surfaces with scanning electron microscopy and measuring microwear.


With research, they found the Stonehenge Ancient Tools’s owner was probably a gold miner. He shaped the priceless metal into sheets for use in gilding other objects. Found in Upton Lovell, Wiltshire, in 1801, the toolkit included five stone hammer-like tools and polished stones. Also, all contained shiny traces of gold.


A research conducted by the Journal of Antiquity shows important details about the findings. It shows that Stonehenge Ancient Tools purpose was to make objects of wood or copper. They also have a decoration of a thin gold sheet. “Our work shows that the humble stone toolkit purpose was to make gold objects thousands of years ago”, said lead author Rachel Crellin in a statement.


Flint axes from Upton Lovell at different stages of use. Photograph: C Tsoraki/Wiltshire Museum, Devizes


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Archaeologists found Stonehenge Ancient Tools in an ancient burial site near Stonehenge. It also dates back to the Bronze Age between 1850 and 1700 BC. Also, the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes spoke about two individuals, including a shaman, found in the Upton Lovell G2a Bronze Age burial.


“The man buried at Upton Lovell, close to Stonehenge, had good crafting skills. He specialized in making gold objects”, Lisa Brown, curator at the Wiltshire Museum, said in a statement. “New research like this is invaluable in helping the museum tell Wiltshire’s ever-evolving story.”


Shaman Was the Only One Who Understood the Magic of Metalworking

Stone tools
Stone tools, with accompanying analysis. Courtesy of the University of Leicester.


In the early 2000s, research conducted by University of Cambridge professor Colin Shell first identified the possible traces of gold on the tools. However, until these recent findings, archaeologists couldn’t determine the remnants on four additional stone artifacts. Also, exactly how ancient they are.


“New research identified further four stone objects with gold on their surfaces. Also, characteristic wear traces, linking a wider suite of items from the burial to the gold working process”, a statement from the University of Leicester said.


Researchers analyzing the tools. Courtesy of the University of Leicester.


They now know that a tool with grooves for abrading once scrubbed copper in addition to gold. The purpose of the dull axe heads was to crush pigments. “This helps us understand the highly skilled processes involved in making gold objects in the Bronze Age. It also shows the continuing importance of museum collections”, said Dr. Oliver Harris, who leads Beyond the Three Age System.


Wiltshire Museum curator Lisa Brown added the central enigma’s “ceremonial cloak decorated with pierced animal bones and hints that he was a spiritual leader. Also, he was one of the few people in the early Bronze Age who understood the magic of metalworking”.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.