They came, they saw, they traded. Welcome to the second in our series on the amazing artefacts and specimens of The Square and Compass Museum, Worth Matravers. In this edition, Cath curates a tour of their newest display, an as-yet-unseen selection of some of Charlie’s favourites as well as a few very special recent finds. How do we know which parts of the Purbeck Limestone Plateau have seen ancient occupation? Because, just as we do, the inhabitants left their rubbish behind!

Mesolithic Axe heads

4000 years BC, a lads’ gathering in the Purbeck countryside would not have resulted in empty lager cans and spent disposable barbecues discarded in an otherwise picturesque field, yet their temporary camp would have retained traces of fire damage in the earth, animal bones from their barbecue and a few lost or even abandoned tools from the hunt. The more an area was visited, the more was left behind and, once settled, a rich seam of ‘rubbish’ accrued.

Thousands of years later, these once everyday objects hold us in thrall. They link us directly to ancestors who dealt with life on a far more visceral basis. Put simply: if you wanted meat, you had to first kill a beast, then dismember it; for clothing, shoes and bedding you must skin, treat and cure hides; for fire and shelter, you could fell trees – but before any of this, tools must be made.

The majority of the objects in the new case at The Square and Compass Museum were found in ploughed fields in and around Worth Matravers. They would have been in almost daily use approximately 4500 years ago. They are beautifully crafted and, despite the ravages of time and wear, most of them can still do the jobs they were made for – so long ago.

For more information about the museum and where to find it – visit www.squareandcompasspub.co.uk

Flint Knives