• Stone bout coupé handaxe from Coygan Cave

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Middle Palaeolithic: circa 66,000-38,000 BP

This handaxe is of a triangular form known as bout coupé, a type used by Neanderthals.

Coygan Cave (Carmarthenshire) was excavated at various times during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries but has now been destroyed by quarrying.

Neanderthals used the cave between 66000 and 38000 years ago. The site’s location, overlooking the plain that is now the Bristol Channel, was perfect for a temporary base and an excellent lookout for hunting reindeer, bison and horses.

Only a few stone tools were found; just three handaxes and three flakes, suggesting the site was only used in the short term. Two of the handaxes were found together close to the wall where they might have been stored for future use.

It is likely that groups of Neanderthals roamed across south Wales during this time, but little evidence for their presence has been found.

Accession number: 73.18H/2
Item reference: DH008032

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