Station: [207] Wood as Resource

The dense mixed oak woods provided Neolithic people with an almost inexhaustible source of raw materials.  When the woods were cleared to provide fields for agriculture and settlements, they had huge quantities of timber at their disposal. The timber structures of the wells and the traces of working on them, together with the finds inside the wells serve to answer many questions, such as, how were the timbers felled and parted and what tools did they use?  What carpentry skills did Neolithic people have? And which parts of the felled trees were used for which purposes?

The marks on the timbers in the well show that the trees were felled with stone hatchets that had been fitted crossways onto their shafts; these tools were called adzes. Then the logs were stripped of their bark and trimmed to the desired length. They generally used fire to trim the logs.  In order to build well constructions, the logs had to be split into planks. As they had no saws, the people split the logs with wedges made of bone or wood. Wedges were also used for making the tapping holes and the pegs for joining the planks.

However, trunk wood wasn’t used just for making wells and building houses or animal enclosures. The bark was used too; they sewed it together to form containers and turned it into roof shingles.  The bast, or inner bark was used for making rope; when heated, these raw materials also produced bark-pitch, which was used as glue and for making vessels watertight. Branches and twigs were also made into handles, sticks, bows and arrows. Twigs also served as fuel for the fire, and the leaves were fed to the animals.

Consequently, the term Stone Age doesn’t mean that the people only used stones for their everyday needs.  Stone tools and implements, and pottery are simply the objects that have survived the millennia. Wood was definitely another important material during the Neolithic!