During the last ice age, most of northern Europe had been deserted because of the extreme weather conditions. By the time this glacial period ended, about 12,000 years ago, humans slowly began to move back to Britain. The stone age of prehistoric Britain last thousands of years and during this time there were many developments and changes. This huge time span in archaeology is often divided into three main periods.
Palaeolithic (meaning 'old stone')
The people of this period lived in local caves and hunted using stone tools. The museum has a few objects from this very early period including a flint hand axe.
Mesolithic (meaning 'middle stone')
The landscape of Craven and North Yorkshire had begun to change greatly by the time of the mesolithic period. As the temperature increased woodland grew and the people of the area developed into mobile hunter gatherers. To be able to catch animals they used a range of flint tools and many examples can be seen in the museum’s collection.
Neolithic (meaning 'new stone')
At this point in time Britain had now become an island. The lifestyle of people had changed again and the neolithic is a period of farming. This development in how people led their lives sees the additional of new objects including pottery and smaller flint tools. Craven Museum has a range of neolithic pottery and flint tools in its collection, as well as animal remains from Elbolton Cave.