One of the things I enjoy most about writing historical fiction is the research. I have discovered all sorts of fascinating facts about the Stone Age. For example, did you know they had chewing gum? Or did you know that in Neolithic times, the change in diet meant that dentistry was needed and that fillings were created from beeswax? (Probably a lot safer than the mercury-filled teeth in my own mouth.) Can you spot how these have been woven into my stories?
However, the most interesting fact I found was that our earliest ancestors in these islands were black. The DNA has been analysed from Cheddar Gorge man and his face reconstructed. For 5,600 years from around 9,600 B.C. to 4,000 B.C. people like him lived in total harmony with their environment, the subject of my first book, ‘A Tree in Time’.
Even the next inhabitants weren’t white, as depicted in my second book ‘Mist in Time’. We must wait another 2,000 years (or there about) till 2,000 B.C. when the Beaker people arrive, who came from the Russian Steppes. To put it into perspective, paler skinned people are relative newcomers to these islands.
As a teacher, I found a distinct lack of supporting materials to teach the Stone Age and am constantly frustrated at the misrepresentation of people from the period. For a starter, all the different periods seem to be lumped together, not considering that there were thousands of years between the cave dwellers of the early Stone Age, the nomadic hunter gatherers of the middle Stone Age and the farmers of the later Stone Age. A lot of children’s book illustrations and educational images depict all Stone Age people as white, hairy and carrying clubs.
To redress this balance, I have created some powerpoints that can be used in primary school, linked to the various sources of research I have undertaken.
Towards the end of last year, I was thrilled to discover that the Brighton Museum and Art Gallery https://brightonmuseums.org.uk/brighton/exhibitions-displays/the-elaine-evans-archaeology-gallery/ had a similar outlook to myself. They have created the most amazing exhibition depicting reconstructions of faces from the past, using DNA. They have very kindly given me permission to use the image of Whitehawk woman in my latest powerpoint, which examines how images can help us unearth secrets from the past. I can’t wait until I can get down to Brighton to visit this incredible exhibition for myself.
To access the powerpoints and check them out for yourself, go to the tab My Books on my website and click on the link on each page of the Tree Spirits in Time books. Alternatively, click on this link: https://gentlepresspublishing.co.uk/stone-age-educational-resources/
(The powerpoints are free for education providers to download and use but I do not authorise commercial educational companies to download and adapt them.)« Back to blog page