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Surrey's Stone Age past on display at Guildford Museum

Flint axes
These flint axes from the Palaeolithic period are on display at Guildford Museum

By Nick Tarver
BBC Surrey

Covered in woodland and home to reindeer, bears and mammoths, ancient Surrey would have looked very different compared to today.

A new BBC series - A History of Ancient Britain - takes a close look at the legacy of those peoples from long ago.

So what traces of the ancients can you still find in Surrey today?

'Hardy people'
Mary Alexander, collections officer at Guildford Museum
Mary Alexander: 'People would have lived in fairly small family groups'

It is still possible to get a glimpse of the county's Stone Age past with a trip to Guildford Museum.

An abundance of flint axes and scrapers found near Farnham, are on display.

Mary Alexander is in charge of the museum's collection of rare Stone Age flint axes, scrapers and blades. The tools date back to the Palaeolithic (500,000 - 10,000BC) and Mesolithic (10,000 - 4,000BC) periods.

She said the earliest people who lived in Surrey would have been nomadic, following herds of animals as they made their way across southern England.

"They must've been quite hardy," she said. "The Palaeolithic people did live in caves elsewhere in Europe, but not around here, so they would have mainly lived outside.

"They could have made shelters from branches, because most of the country would've been covered with trees. If they had any clothing it would've been animal skins."

Farnham finds
Mesolithic saw
Mesolithic people created saws out of flint, like the one above

Early humans came to the Farnham area to hunt animals which had travelled to the River Wey for water. This is where the majority of Palaeolithic flint has been found.

Used as either scrapers or hand axes the rock has been carefully chipped away to make useful tools for butchering animals and cutting wood.

"People would have lived in fairly small family groups - perhaps a few families together," said Ms Alexander.

"They would've been collecting nuts and berries and eating various plants.

"There are no settlements known at this point - people are still wandering around following the herds, but they probably came back to the same places each year."

During the Mesolithic period, when the English Channel was formed and Britain became an island, ancient people created tiny tips and barbs out of flint called microliths, which have been found in Surrey.

These were probably attached to wood to make a early saw.

Guildford Museum is open Monday to Saturday, 11am to 5pm.

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