21 – Reindeer in Staffordshire

Did you know there was a time when you didn’t have to wait until Christmas to see a Reindeer in North Staffordshire?

Reindeer Jaw from Ossom’s Cave, Manifold Valley

The proof can be found among our archaeology collections. In the caves of the Staffordshire Peak District,  in the Manifold and Hamps Valley, archaeologists excavated animal remains dating back beyond 12,000 years ago into the last ice age.

At one cave, Ossom’s Cave, they discovered more than 1,000 bones in one of the older layers. Only four of which weren’t identified as Reindeer remains.

These bones, alongside other species like Lemming and Ptarmigan, are clues to the ice age climate that once gripped much of Britain. As the ice retreated people began to move back into Britain. Reindeer herds offered an important source of food, clothing, and materials for tool making. Hunters probably exploited seasonal migration routes, using caves as shelter. Flint blades from ancient hunters were found at Wetton Mill Rock Shelter and some bones found in the region have potential cut marks from butchering. What would Rudolph say to that!?