British museum hails discovery of pre-historic art

The Burton Agnes chalk drum, a 5,000 year old chalk sculpture, was found on a country estate in the eponymous area of East Yorkshire.

10 February 2022

The British Museum has announced the “most important” discovery of pre-historic art in Britain in a century.

The Burton Agnes chalk drum, a 5,000-year-old chalk sculpture, was found on a country estate in the eponymous area of East Yorkshire.

The drum is covered in an elaborate design that was popular during the time when Stonehenge was built.

A person examines the site surrounding the Burton Agnes chalk drum (British Museum/PA)

It was found near the grave of three children of different ages.

The three children’s bodies were buried in an embrace, with the eldest child holding the two youngest whose hands were touching.

The drum was buried just above the head of the eldest child.

Neil Wilkin, curator of The World Of Stonehenge at the British Museum, said it was the “most important” piece of prehistoric art to be found in Britain in the last 100 years.

Burton Agnes chalk drum
The top of the Burton Agnes chalk drum (British Museum/PA)

“This is a truly remarkable discovery, and is the most important piece of prehistoric art to be found in Britain in the last 100 years,” he said.

He added that the scene discovered at the grave was “deeply moving”.

“The discovery of the Burton Agnes grave is highly moving. The emotions the new drum expresses are powerful and timeless, they transcend the time of Stonehenge and reflect a moment of tragedy and despair that remains undimmed after 5,000 years.”

It was unearthed by contractors from Allen archaeology, and will go on display at the British Museum as part of its The World Of Stonehenge exhibition which opens next week.

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