Mesolithic Tottenham Hale

Recent archaeological discoveries reveal Tottenham’s history

An archaeologist shows visitors some of the finds on the site.
Credit: John Sturrock

By Alastair Ball

An archaeological survey conducted at the former Welbourne Centre site on Chesnut Road has found new evidence of the earliest settlement in Tottenham.

The number of items found by archaeology company, Pre- Construct Archaeology, indicates that the Tottenham Hale plot was a tool-making site.

Many of the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) tools, which are still sharp, would have been used for skinning animals, cutting meat and whittling wood. The remains include flint axes that are between 8,000 and 9,000 years old.

Discoveries at the Welbourne site.
Credit: John Sturrock

It is thought that this ancient settlement was far bigger than most Mesolithic sites, with a lot of people living here, by the standards of the Mesolithic period.

The finds were displayed to school children and the general public at an open day last month. The ultimate home of these
objects is yet to be decided but it is likely that they will go to the Museum of London. Bruce Castle museum would like to hold an exhibition; however, more work needs to be done on the site and to the objects already found.

Archaeologist Barry Bishop said: “[Finding a] Mesolithic [site] is not uncommon in the London area but sites of this size are quite rare.”

“Not only were they using tools here but they were bringing flint in.” Barry believes that the flint was most likely brought in from Hertfordshire, from a site at the top of the River Lea.

Adam Single, Historic England’s Archaeological Adviser, said: “The site is producing a lot of early Mesolithic remains.

“Evidence of intensive activity from that distant prehistoric period is very rare and I expect we will learn a great deal about that time during this work.”

He added: “Passing through busy Tottenham Hale today, you perhaps wouldn’t realise that amid all the new development it has so much heritage, but this dig has shown some truly special items coming to light.”

“The discovery is certainly an important one for London, and for the Lea Valley especially.”

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