Local specialist and HE colleague Anna Lawson-Jones has identified over 106 pieces of flint amongst the finds excavated at Carwynnen in 2012. This is the largest collection (to date) of worked flint which has been found in association with an Early Neolithic monument in Cornwall.
At least half of the flint (55) were found in the area immediately around the quoit and the greatest number in quadrant 3. The flintwork dates from the Early Neolithic into the later period (3rd millennium BC) with hints of continuing interest into the Early Bronze Age (2nd millennium BC): these finds show varied degrees of interaction in and around the quoit for some 3,000 or more years and neatly mirrors that longevity and active history as suggested by the prehistoric pots and stonework. The origin of most of the flint is pebble, presumably collected from the nearest beaches, although within the collection there are a few pieces of high quality nodular flint which may well have come from further afield in Devon and Dorset. A single piece of Portland chert has been identified. What is striking about the collection is the wide variety of tools represented – arrowheads, blades, knifes and scrapers – and a significant quantity of burnt material (by fire) alongside a high percentage of snapped and fragmented tools which appear to have been deliberately broken. Some of this material had been snapped in two and then burnt. Such behaviour could be interpreted as a systematic policy to transform once useful objects into useless bits and pieces which remain no more than symbolic material remains of ceremonial rites and rituals played out at the quoit. The lack of a great deal of flint waste at Carwynnen (that is produced in the course of tool manufacture) does suggest that whole flint objects were brought to the site by communities living elsewhere and were then left behind as traces of rites performed at the monument.
We could suggest that the flintwork represents actual evidence of ritual feasting, display and consumption at Carwynnen Quoit in prehistory. The collection, with its marked tool character, ultimately altered, transformed and therefore rendered unusable, provides us with insights into issues of sustainability and lifestyles, which tap into the mindsets of the people who lived in the distant past.