Cite this as: Ingrey, L., Duffy, SM., Bates, M., Shaw, A. and Pope, M. 2023 On the Discovery of a Late Acheulean 'Giant' Handaxe from the Maritime Academy, Frindsbury, Kent, Internet Archaeology 61. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.61.6
This article presents initial results from excavations at Maritime Academy, Frindsbury, which produced several handaxes, two of which can be classed as 'giant handaxes'. Artefacts were recovered from fluvial deposits in the Medway Valley and are thought to date from the Marine Isotope Stage 9 interglacial. This article focuses on the largest of these handaxes and presents metrical data for the artefact and initial comparison with similar artefacts from the British Palaeolithic.
Corresponding author: Letty Ingrey
UCL Institute of Archaeology/Archaeology South-East
University of Wales, Trinity St David's
Figure 1: Location of the Maritime Academy Palaeolithic site. Top left shows the site’s location within the wider region. Top right shows the site’s position relative to current course of the Medway and the Palaeolithic sites of Cuxton and Frindsbury All Saints. The bottom image shows a plan of the site including the geoarchaeological test pits and mitigation areas discussed in the text
Figure 2: Schematic section showing the position of the handaxe (RF 53) within the sequence of deposits
Figure 3: Four views of the Maritime Academy ‘giant’ handaxe (RF 53), showing both faces of the artefact and the view of each side
Ashton, N. and Davis, R. 2021 'Cultural mosaics, social structure, and identity: the Acheulean threshold in Europe', Journal of Human Evolution 156, 103011. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2021.103011
Bates, M.R., Wenban-Smith, F.F., Bello, S.M., Bridgland, D.R., Buck, L.T., Collins, M.J., Keen, D.H., Leary, J., Parfitt, S.A., Penkman, K. and Rhodes, E. 2014 'Late persistence of the Acheulian in southern Britain in an MIS 8 interstadial: evidence from Harnham, Wiltshire', Quaternary Science Reviews 101, 159-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2014.07.002
Bates, M.R., Bates, C.R., Briant, R.M., Gibbard, P.L., Glaister, C., Jones, S., Meijer, T., Penkman,K.E.H., Schwenninger, J-L., Walker, M.J.C., Wenban-Smith, F.F. and Whittaker, J.E. 2017 'Chapter 2. The Quaternary evolution of the Lower Medway: new evidence from beneath the flood plain' in G. Dawkes (ed) Between the Thames and Medway. Archaeological excavations on the Hoo Peninsula and its environs, Portslade: Spoil Heap Publications 13, Archaeology South-East. 9-63.
Bennett, M.J. 2021 'On the nature of extreme close-range photogrammetry: visualization and measurement of North African stone points', Code4Lib Journal 51. https://journal.code4lib.org/articles/15769
BGS 2023 BGS Geology Viewer https://www.bgs.ac.uk/map-viewers/bgs-geology-viewer/
Bridgland, D.R. 2003 'The evolution of the River Medway, SE England, in the context of Quaternary palaeoclimate and the Palaeolithic occupation of NW Europe', Proceedings of the Geologists' Association 114(1), 23-48. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0016-7878(03)80026-3
Bridgland, D.R. and White, M.J. 2014 'Fluvial archives as a framework for the Lower and Middle Palaeolithic: patterns of British artefact distribution and potential chronological implications', Boreas 43(2), 543-55. https://doi.org/10.1111/bor.12059
Bridgland, D.R. and White, M.J. 2015 'Chronological variations in handaxes: patterns detected from fluvial archives in north-west Europe', Journal of Quaternary Science 30(7), 623-38. https://doi.org/10.1002/jqs.2805
Caricola, I., Zupancich, A., Moscone, D., Mutri, G., Falcucci, A., Duches, R., ... and Cristiani, E. 2018 'An integrated method for understanding the function of macro-lithic tools. Use wear, 3D and spatial analyses of an Early Upper Palaeolithic assemblage from North Eastern Italy', PLoS One 13(12), e0207773. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0207773
Collins, T., Woolley, S. I., Gehlken, E. and Ch'ng, E. 2019 'Automated low-cost photogrammetric acquisition of 3D models from small form-factor artefacts', Electronics 8(12), 1441. https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics8121441
Cook, W.H. and Killick, J.R. 1924 'On the discovery of a flint-working site of Palaeolithic date in the Medway Valley at Rochester, Kent, with notes on the drift stages of the Medway', Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society of East Anglia 4, 133-49.
Dale, L. 2022 'Early Neanderthal Social and Behavioural Complexity During the Purfleet Interglacial: handaxes in the latest Lower Palaeolithic', PhD thesis, Durham University.
Foulds, F.W., Shuttleworth, A., Sinclair, A., Alsharekh, A.M., Al Ghamdi, S., Inglis, R.H. and Bailey, G.N. 2017 'A large handaxe from Wadi Dabsa and early hominin adaptations within the Arabian Peninsula', Antiquity 91(360), 1421-34. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2017.153
García-Medrano, P., Moncel, M. H., Maldonado-Garrido, E., Ollé, A. and Ashton, N. 2023 'The Western European Acheulean: reading variability at a regional scale', Journal of Human Evolution 179, 103357. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2023.103357
Grosman, L., Sharon, G., Goldman-Neuman, T., Smikt, O. and Smilansky, U. 2011 'Studying post depositional damage on Acheulian bifaces using 3-D scanning', Journal of Human Evolution 60(4), 398-406. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhevol.2010.02.004
Grosman, L., Muller, A., Dag, I., Goldgeier, H., Harush, O., Herzlinger, G., ... and Dick, N. 2022 'Artifact3-D: New software for accurate, objective and efficient 3D analysis and documentation of archaeological artifacts', Plos One 17(6), e0268401. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0268401
Guidi, G., Shafqat Malik, U. and Micoli, L.L. 2020 'Optimal lateral displacement in automatic close-range photogrammetry', Sensors 20(21), 6280. https://doi.org/10.3390/s20216280
Hosfield, R. and Green, C.P. (eds) 2013 Quaternary History and Palaeolithic Archaeology in the Axe Valley at Broom, South West England, Oxford: Oxbow Books. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv13pk7td
Iglhaut, J., Cabo, C., Puliti, S., Piermattei, L., O'Connor, J. and Rosette, J. 2019 'Structure from motion photogrammetry in forestry: a review', Current Forestry Reports 5, 155-68. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40725-019-00094-3
Ingrey, L., Le Hegaret, K. and Pope, M. 2021 'Palaeolithic Archaeology from Fluvial Deposits at the Maritime Academy Site, Manor Farm, Frindsbury, Geoarchaeological Evaluation: Interim Report', Unpublished Archaeology South East report for Bowmer and Kirkland.
Knowles, P.G. forthcoming 'A magnificent ficron and assemblage containing cleavers from Canterbury: a reanalysis of the collection of Dr Thomas Armstrong Bowes and a problem of provenance'.
Lacaille, A.D. 1940 'The palaeoliths from the gravels of the Lower Boyn Hill Terrace around Maidenhead', The Antiquaries Journal 20(2), 245-71. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003581500009707
Lincoln, P.C. 2020 'Manor Farm, Frindsbury, Kent. Geoarchaeological Fieldwork and Deposit Model Report', Unpublished University of Reading Report for Canterbury Archaeological Trust.
MacRae, R.J. 1987 'The great giant handaxe stakes', Lithics 8, 15-17.
Magnani, M., Douglass, M., Schroder, W., Reeves, J. and Braun, D. 2020 'The digital revolution to come: photogrammetry in archaeological practice', American Antiquity 85(4), 737-60. https://doi.org/10.1017/aaq.2020.59
McNabb, J. 2022 'Looking backwards, looking forwards: evaluating the Roe handaxe methodology in the twenty-first century and the introduction of a new 'Roe-type' index', Lithic Technology 47(3), 183-202. https://doi.org/10.1080/01977261.2021.2002548
McNabb, J. and Cole, J. 2015 'The mirror cracked: symmetry and refinement in the Acheulean handaxe', Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 3, 100-11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2015.06.004
Olson, B.R., Gordon, J.M., Runnels, C. and Chomyszak, S. 2014 'Experimental three-dimensional printing of a lower Palaeolithic handaxe: an assessment of the technology and analytical value', Lithic Technology 39(3), 162-72. https://doi.org/10.1179/2051618514Y.0000000004
Porter, S.T., Roussel, M. and Soressi, M. 2016 'A simple photogrammetry rig for the reliable creation of 3D artifact models in the field: lithic examples from the Early Upper Paleolithic sequence of Les Cottés (France)', Advances in Archaeological Practice 4(1), 71-86. https://doi.org/10.7183/2326-3722.214.171.124
Porter, S.T., Roussel, M. and Soressi, M. 2019 'A comparison of Châtelperronian and Protoaurignacian core technology using data derived from 3D models', Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology 2(1), 41-55. https://doi.org/10.5334/jcaa.17
Roe, D.A. 1967 'A study of handaxe groups of the British Lower and Middle Palaeolithic periods, using methods of metrical and statistical analysis, with a Gazetteer of British lower and middle Palaeolithic sites', PhD Thesis, University of Cambridge.
Roe, D.A. 1968 'British Lower and Middle palaeolithic handaxe groups', Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 34, 1-82. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0079497X00013840
Sadeq, H.A. 2019 'Accuracy assessment using different UAV image overlaps', Journal of Unmanned Vehicle Systems 7(3), 175-93. https://cdnsciencepub.com/doi/10.1139/juvs-2018-0014
Scott, R. 2011 Becoming Neanderthals: The Earlier British Middle Palaeolithic, Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Shaw, A.D. and White, M.J. 2003 'Another look at the Cuxton handaxe assemblage', Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 69, 305-13. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0079497X00001365
Singer, R., Wymer, J., Gladfelter, B.G. and Wolff, R.G. 1973 'Excavation of the Clactonian industry at the golf course, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex', Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 39, 6-74. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0079497X00011610
Spikins, P. 2012 'Goodwill hunting? Debates over the 'meaning' of Lower Palaeolithic handaxe form revisited', World Archaeology 44, 378-92. https://doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2012.725889
Timbrell, L., Scott, C., Habte, B., Tefera, Y., Monod, H., Qazzih, M. and Grove, M. 2022 'Testing inter-observer error under a collaborative research framework for studying lithic shape variability', Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences 14(10), 209. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12520-022-01676-2
Wenban-Smith, F. 2004 'Handaxe typology and Lower Palaeolithic cultural development: ficrons, cleavers and two giant handaxes from Cuxton', Lithics 25, 11-21.
Wenban-Smith, F. 2006 'Cuxton giant handaxes', Kent Archaeological Society Newsletter 68, 2-3.
Wenban-Smith, F.F., Bates, M.R. and Marshall, G.D. 2007 'Medway Valley Palaeolithic project final report: The Palaeolithic resource in the Medway gravels (Kent)', Unpublished report submitted to English Heritage.
White, M.J. 1996 'Biface variability and human behaviour: a study from South-Eastern England', Unpublished Ph.D Thesis, University of Cambridge.
Wymer, J.J. 1968 Lower Palaeolithic Archaeology in Britain as Represented by the Thames Valley, London: John Baker.
Wymer, J.J. 1985 The Palaeolithic Sites of East Anglia, Geo Books.
Internet Archaeology is an open access journal based in the Department of Archaeology, University of York. Except where otherwise noted, content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY) Unported licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that attribution to the author(s), the title of the work, the Internet Archaeology journal and the relevant URL/DOI are given.
Internet Archaeology content is preserved for the long term with the Archaeology Data Service. Help sustain and support open access publication by donating to our Open Access Archaeology Fund.