Designed by Francis and Jessica Wenban-Smith

Stopes Palaeolithic Project

The Stopes project is based in the Department of Archaeology, at the University of Southampton, and funded by the Aggregates Levy through English Heritage, in partnership with the National Museums & Galleries of Wales. The project is focused on the study of a very substantial collection of Lower and Middle Palaeolithic artefacts made by Henry Stopes, a private collector, in the late 19th century. Most of the collection came from Pleistocene deposits exposed by quarrying in the Swanscombe area of Kent. This is both a key region for Palaeolithic archaeological evidence and one currently under severe development pressure. The Stopes collection is of remarkable size, occupying almost 200 crates, weighing several tons and filling a substantial basement room

Fig. 1. Stopes Collection in storage before project
(© National Museums and Galleries of Wales, with kind permission)

It was acquired by the National Museum of Wales in 1912, and has remained in storage ever since. No one has yet succeeded in counting it, although it has been estimated to contain 50,000 to 70,000 artefacts. The collection is of particular significance because it is supported by a catalogue giving details of where each artefact was found

Fig. 2. Stopes Collection artefacts and handaxes
(© National Museums and Galleries of Wales, with kind permission)

The main objectives of the Stopes Palaeolithic Project are:
To identify the locations in the landscape of Stopes' find-spots, in particular those:
i) not mapped in the Southern Rivers project and
ii) where Pleistocene sediments are still present

To identify the stratigraphic context of the artefacts in the Stopes collection, and to relate this to mapped Pleistocene sedimentary units

To assess the potential of the artefacts in the Stopes collection to contribute to national and regional Palaeolithic research objectives

To determine appropriate evaluation and/or mitigation strategies for surviving deposits at Stopes' sites in advance of any potential impact from development

Fig. 3. Stopes Collection under examination
(© National Museums and Galleries of Wales, with kind permission)