Rare polysuar, a stone used by Neolithic people to sharpen and polish stone axes 5,000 years ago, has been found discovered in the Valley of Stones National Nature Reserve in Dorset. It is only the second polissuar found intact on site, known as the “earth” stone in England.
The boulder is sarsen stone, a form of sandstone best known for its use at Stonehenge and other Neolithic megalithic sites. Of the more than 1,000 sarsen boulders documented in Dorset, only a handful have strong evidence that they were used to polish tools.
The presence of the polishing stone was revealed when the volunteers cleared the area of vegetation that had grown over the sarsen stones hiding them from view. It has a raised, glossy area on its upper surface, resulting from repeatedly running the edges of the axles over this area to sharpen and sharpen them.
Ann Teeter and Jim Rylatta, directors of the nonprofit Past Involvement CIC, which helps people learn more about local heritage, were working across the valley when they decided to take a stroll to see how they were doing.
Rylatta got there first and saw the boulder. “It’s a relatively unattractive boulder on the one hand,” he said. But then he plucked some leaves and found a shiny polished area. “It’s safe to say that I was surprised. The only other found in situ in England was found in the 1960s at Fifield Down (in Wiltshire).” (…)
Perhaps it was a work area, not a residential area. “Perhaps there were people here who were doing other things, perhaps processing animal skins, butchering meat to cook dinner.”
Teeter said that the polissuar was not far from the ancient road. “You can imagine how people come to the stone to polish their axes. It was not necessarily a place of settlement, but a place where people came and passed through.”
The area around the stone has now been excavated and analyzed to determine if there are any archaeological materials – stone, organic remains – left behind by Neolithic ax makers. The discovery of the polissoir also prompted historical England to study the landscape in order to shed new light on its prehistoric occupation.