Ox-scapula shovel, UK

This shovel was discovered during excavations at the stone circle and earthworks in Avebury, Wiltshire in 1909, and dates to between 2900 and 2600BC. It is made from the scapula (shoulder blade) of an ox.

The shape of this particular bone naturally lends itself to being used as a shovel, and it is likely to have been bound to a wooden haft to create a functional tool. Shovels like this one were probably used to remove soil and rubble. General Pitt Rivers was very interested in experimental archaeology: he made and used reproduction scapula shovels, including this one in our collection.

Donated by the Council of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1926.

Accession number: 1926.50.3