A finely flaked flint axe of Early–Middle Neolithic date, between 5,000 and 6,000 years old, was found at the edge of a river channel on the Olympic Park site. The discovery of this object highlighted to the archaeologists the importance of the River Lea to prehistoric and later occupants of the valley.
This kind of axe would have been a functional tool, for use, for example, in helping the early farmers to make clearings in the woodland. It would also have been a highly valued object, perhaps a symbol of a person’s status.
The axe appeared to have hardly been used, suggesting that it may have been deliberately placed in the water, perhaps as some form of offering. Finds of similar axes have previously been found along the River Lea.
Although the Neolithic period saw the beginning of agriculture, with both cereal cultivation and livestock farming, the rich resources of the river and valley floor – plants, game animals, fish and fowl – would have continued to draw people to waterside sites like this.