Plymouth Archaeology Society

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Where to look for evidence of beavers in Britain

In the early Neolithic, the edges of Dartmoor would have had the right conditions for beavers and it is easy to imagine them thriving there.

Possible late glacial sites are Kent’s cavern and caves in the Wye Valley.

Early Mesolithic sites: Star Carr, the Thames Valley and its tributaries.

Beaver bones and teeth have been found along the Thames and Kennet Valleys. In the Mesolithic hunter/gatherers were starting to settle in areas by water.

A lot of beaver bones have been found in The Fens.

Hambledon Hill causewayed enclosure yielded beaver bones in pits.

At Durrington Walls a number of beaver bones were found inside and outside of the henge.

Ceremonial sites reveal beaver bones e.g. The Upper Kennet (by Silbury Hill).

Beaver teeth are found in burials e.g. Duggleby

Flag Fen, there is evidence for human activity on an abandoned beaver lodge.

Iron-Age sites:

Staple Howe – evidence for trapping beavers

Haddenham – lots of beaver bones, butchery and skinning.

There is no evidence from Roman sites.

Beavers can be found in all contexts of human life.

Carved beaver teeth have been found in North America (also bone carved to look like beaver teeth!)

Beaver fur is warm and waterproof, skinning marks have been found on prehistoric bones.

Their meat is good; they are as big as Iron-Age sheep.

The valuable fat from their tails would have been important for the winter months.

Bones could be used for tools.

There is evidence of beaver mandibles being trimmed and made into woodworking tools: molars can be used as a plane and the incisors as a chisel.