Antler and Bone

We have finally completed Sussex, the largest assemblage from a single county.  It mainly consisted of ceramic sherds and stone tools.  However the last few objects we looked at were a complete change; three beautiful weaving combs of antler from Lancing [PRM 1884.46.11-13].  Two of the objects photographed are decorated, one of which [PRM 1884.46.13] is broken where the handle was perforated for a rope or leather thong to pass through to allow the comb to be attached to the wearers belt. 

PRM 1884.46.11-13 (left to right) were collected in Lancing by James Medhurst and purchased by Pitt-Rivers in 1879.
London, our next county, has a great variety of objects and is proving to be very interesting.  The animal bones excavated from London Wall were identified by Professor Richard Owen, the first director of the Natural History Museum.  His name is written on a number of objects as seen below.  

PRM 1884.140.271 is a metatarsal identified as Red Deer by Richard Owen.
Lane Fox (1867: lxxvi) described some of the bone implements from London Wall as being of ruder construction...cut through in the middle and roughly squared at the small endHe goes on to say that:

Professor Owen and Mr. Blake concur in thinking these implements may possibly have been formed with flint, but I cannot ascertain that they were found at a lower level than the Roman remains, nor have any flint implements, to my knowledge, been found in the place.

PRM 1885.118.260 is an example of a pinners bone found at London Wall. 
The objects are in fact pinners bones from the Medieval and Post Medieval period.  The shaft was worked into four flat facets and a saw used to make the grooves for holding the pin in place whilst it was filed and sharpened (MacGregor 1985: 171).

Other bone and antler objects excavated in London include chisels, points, knives, mattocks, bobbins, scoops and skates.

PRM 1884.118.190 is a mattock made from antler, excavated in August 1869 from peat bogs in Walthamstow.
PRM 1884.118.257 is a scoop made from the metatarsal of a horse, found in the excavations at London Wall in January 1869.
Lane Fox, A.  1867. A Description of Certain Piles Found near London Wall and Southwark, Possibly the Remains of Pile Buildings.  Journal of the Anthropological Society of London, Vol. 5 (1867), pp. lxxi-lxxxiii

MacGregor, A.  1985.  Bone, Antler, Ivory and Horn: The Technology of Skeletal Materials Since the Roman Period.  London: Croom Helm


  1. Beautiful weaving combs!
    My granddad found something similar, in Essex in the 50ies. My dad has the object today and I have started looking in to what it is as it is so beautiful.
    Do you have an e-mail adress where I can send you some photos of the object? Do you have any other tips where I can send the photos to get an opinion?
    Dads object looks like the weaving combs to the right in the picture but with much clearer decorations in the form of geometrical lines.
    My adress is

    katrin.lundstedt-enkel at

    Katrin Lundstedt-Enkel
    MSc, PhD, Associate Professor

  2. There is no mention of any dates!
    Are they by any chance Neolithic?