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Student Lydia discovers a rare artefact

PUBLISHED: 07:33 15 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:32 06 July 2010

Lydia Bareham with the Neolithic flint dagger she found at the Southwold Maize Maze. With Bella Hall who owns the maze.

Lydia Bareham with the Neolithic flint dagger she found at the Southwold Maize Maze. With Bella Hall who owns the maze.

Hayley Mace

When Lydia Bareham first saw a piece of stone sticking out of the path in front of her, it looked like an ordinary piece of rock.

But when the 16-year-old dug it out and wiped off the soil, she realised that she had uncovered an ancient flint tool.

When Lydia Bareham first saw a piece of stone sticking out of the path in front of her, it looked like an ordinary piece of rock.

But when the 16-year-old dug it out and wiped off the soil, she realised that she had uncovered an ancient flint tool.

Miss Bareham was at work at the Southwold Maize Maze when she came across the flint - which could date back more than 4,000 years- partly buried in one of the paths which leads visitors around the attraction.

After comparing its sharp point, worked edges and thin handle to photographs of similar implements on the internet, she believes that the flint could be a Neolithic dagger or knife, made by ancient settlers in the Blyth valley thousands of years ago.

She said: “I've always been interested in archaeology and took a GCSE in it with my mum when I was 13. We've often gone field walking, looking for bits and pieces, so I would often look out for pieces of flint and stone while walking in the maze. This was just sticking out of the path, I could only see the top bit of it.”

Other tiny pieces of flint have previously been found in the maze, which is on a working farm in Reydon, just outside Southwold, but nothing worked into an arrowhead or knife has ever been seen there.

Miss Bareham, who has been working at the maize maze this summer and starts studying at City College Norwich, in September, said: “This would have been a perfect site for an ancient settlement because it is right by the river, which was once very busy with boats sailing in from the sea at Southwold and going as far as Halesworth, so there would probably have been people living right here.

“It is fascinating to think that until I picked it up, no one had touched this for thousands of years.”

Next week, she is going to take the flint dagger to be examined by experts at Suffolk County Council's archaeology unit in Bury St Edmunds, who she hopes will be able to confirm its age and use.

Bella Hall, who runs the maize maze at Old Hall Farm, said that once more is known about the tool, she is planning to donate it to the Southwold museum, where other ancient finds from around the area are already on display -including some flints found in the eroding cliffs Easton Bavents , just north of Southwold.

Mrs Hall said: “It is truly amazing to think that the last person who touched this would have been standing right here thousands of years ago.

“These paths get so much wear on them that I suppose things get brought to the surface, and there are lots of small flints around. Hopefully this will encourage our visitors to see the maze in a whole new light and keep their eyes open as well - who knows what they might find?”

Southwold Maize Maze, off the A1095 Halesworth Road in Reydon, is open daily until September 2.

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