• Perforated animal tooth from Kendrick’s Cave

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Final Upper Palaeolithic: circa 10,580 BP

One of nine decorated and perforated animal tooth beads discovered during the late nineteenth century at Kendrick Cave, Great Orme, Conwy.

Six of the teeth, including this example, are from a large bovid, probably auroch or wild cattle, two are from red deer and one from a cervid (deer). Also reportedly found in the cave was a horse upper jaw decorated with a chevron design, which is now in the British Museum, and four bone tallies, now in Llandudno Museum.

All of the teeth are incisors and are decorated with a series of incisions on the roots. All have the remains of, or a complete, perforation towards the base of the root. This suggest that they were once strung and used as beads. Some of the incisions still have traces of a red deposit. Red ochre was used at this time, and it may be there symbolically as decoration.

This tooth has been radiocarbon dated. The result is later than might have been expected, falling in the Late Glacial stadial. The presence of humans in Wales during this period is unlikely, given the extreme conditions and open tundra landscape. However, the date of the tooth, apparently falls within this very cold period.

Accession no: 80.92H/4
Image reference: DH005176

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