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Wales celebrating find of 6,000-year-old decorative wood carving

In a recent article here at The ToolPost (, we gave a brief summary of the history of woodturning, encompassing thousands of years from the ancient Egyptians and Romans, through to the Industrial Revolution and this wonderful art's present widespread applications. But physical examples of that history don't come much more authentic or fascinating than a 6,000-year-old decorative wood carving recently unearthed on a mountainside in Wales.

It has attracted plenty of attention since being exposed by workmen constructing Maerdy Wind Farm in the Rhondda Valley, and it is believed by archaeologists to be one of the oldest decorative wood carvings in Europe - likely dating back 6,270 years to the Late Mesolithic/Early Neolithic period, according to Heritage Recording Services Wales archaeologist Richard Scott Jones.

The piece of wood, described as "priceless" and "in archaeological circles ... the equivalent to winning the lottery" by Scott Jones, is set for a public unveiling at the National History Museum in St Fagans in 2014.
The archaeologist added: "Finding a piece of decorative art like this is incredibly rare in this area of Wales, especially on uplands. And in terms of timber, this is truly unique. It gives us an idea of the sophistication in terms of artwork around at that time."

It was while a substation for the wind farm was being built last September that workmen discovered around 12 lengths of timber in waterlogged peat deposits, with one elaborately carved piece being subsequently removed off-site and cleaned so that it could be inspected.

The timber is around 1.7m long and features an oval motif at one end, with one side also sporting an intricate pattern. It is thought that the timber was formerly a tribal marker post indicating a hunting ground, sacred site or tribal boundary.

On the discovery of the significance of the timber, it was sent to Newport Ship Centre so that it could be temporarily preserved in a water holding tank and scanned with a 3D laser. The find was also examined by various paleo-entomologists and experts from the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust and University of Wales Trinity St David.

The woodcarving is now undergoing a wax-glycol conservation treatment at the York Archaeological Trust in York, before it is hoped to be transferred to Cardiff next year.
In the words of Alan Baker of 2020 Renewables, "It's very exciting that this discovery has proved to be of such international significance and fully justifies our company policy of protecting sites of historic interest" - and here at the specialists in the finest wood turning equipment, The ToolPost, we couldn't agree more.

The ToolPost ( will certainly be following the news about one of Europe's oldest examples of decorative wood carving with interest, and we hope that many of our customers will be in St Fagans to see it on its museum appearance next year! In the meantime, customers can trust us with the sale of timbers, turning tools, woodturning lathes and more to meet their specific amateur or professional needs.

Editor's Note: The ToolPost ( is represented by the search engine advertising and digital marketing specialists Jumping Spider Media. Please direct all press queries to Louise Byrne. Email: or call: +44 (0)20 3070 1959 / +34 952 783 637.

1997-2010 P. Hemsley.  The information on this website is the copyright property of Peter Hemsley.  Coeur du Bois and The ToolPost are trading styles of Peter Hemsley.  Whilst reasonable efforts are made to ensure the accuracy of information presented, no liability can be accepted for errors in this information nor for contingencies arising therefrom.  If you are inexperienced in any aspect of woodworking, we would strongly counsel that you take a course of formal instruction before commencing to practice