Antler pick

Antler pick, Barbican House MuseumThis is a pick made from the antler of a red deer. It was used at the Neolithic flint mines at Harrow Hill.

Antlers have sharp points and make perfect digging tools. They could be used in the mines to pick away at joints in the chalk and hook out loose rubble.

They could also be used to knap flint pieces to make sharp chopping and cutting tools.

Other animal bones, including shoulder blades, were also made into tools by the people of prehistory.


Fact file

  • Red deer, one of the largest deer species, played an important role in the lives of the prehistoric people who hunted them. Not only could they be eaten and their bones used as tools, their skin could be used for clothing and their sinews used as cord and thread
  • Only the stags have antlers. These are made of bone and start growing in the spring. They are shed each year, usually at the end of winter, and can therefore be collected from the ground without killing the animal.
  • Red deer are widely depicted in cave art found throughout European caves, with some of the work dating from as early as 40,000 years ago.

Video: knapping flint with a piece of antler