Prehistory Teaching Resources

Lascaux Cave Art

Introduction

The Prehistoric Society is the foremost society for the promotion of study into our prehistoric past. These learning resources have been created by members of the Society and are free to use in your classroom. Each Lesson Plan includes:

  • Broad Lesson Plan (e.g. 1a),
  • PowerPoint (e.g. 1b), and
  • Background Information for Teachers (e.g. 1c).

Download our Introduction document for information on how to use these resources:

The sites are arranged in chronological order (earliest first)

PALAEOLITHIC

Lesson 1: Lascaux

Cave art is restricted to the very end of the Palaeolithic period and is associated with populations of modern humans (homo sapiens). It is closely centred in areas of south-western France, particularly the valley of the Dordogne, and north-eastern Spain, along the coastal strip. The most famous cave in the first area is Lascaux; the most famous in the second area is Altamira.

MESOLITHIC

Lesson 2: Star Carr

Star Carr is in eastern Yorkshire near the village of Seamer, 5 miles south of Scarborough. Its name derives from the Danish (Viking) for sedge fen. The lake that was left here after the glaciers retreated filled with decayed vegetation to form a peat fen that is now represented by flat, productive farmland. Water logging and low levels of oxygen in swamp fens has meant that organic material such as wood survives below this farmland.

NEOLITHIC

Lesson 3: Skara Brae

House 1 at Skara Brae was partially revealed when a great storm broke down sand dunes in 1850. The beds and the dresser were so like contemporary wooden furniture in Orkney farmhouses – some of which also had a central hearth – that it was thought impossible that it could any older than Pictish times (300-800AD).

Lesson 4: Long Barrows

Long barrows are great mounds of earth or stone. Most are between 25 and 75m long but only 15-20m wide. They were the earliest monuments built in Britain by the first farming communities. They date from about 3800BC. Some, like that at Uley in the Cotswolds which is the subject of the Power Point presentation, have stone built chambers within them.

Lesson 5: Grimes Graves

Grimes Grave is the name given to 433 mines and pits in Thetford Forest. The Anglo-Saxons were so puzzled by this weird dimpled landscape that they concluded it had been constructed by the god Grim (or Woden). It wasn’t until 1870, when one of the pit hollows was excavated to its base, that they were shown to have been flint mines of Neolithic date.

Lesson 6: Stonehenge

Stonehenge is unique. There are hundreds of stone circles in the British Isles but none have lintels set across stones. Nor have the stones at other stone circles been smoothed to shape.

BRONZE AGE

Lesson 7: Round Barrows

Round barrows are, almost without exception, Bronze Age burial mounds. They can be found right across Britain, although when they are constructed of stone rather than earth, they are called round Cairns.

IRON AGE

Lesson 8: Roundhouses

Evidence for distinctive round houses begins about 1500BC but they are most common during the Iron Age (800BC – 43AD). This was because the introduction of iron working from the continent allowed stronger tools to be made from an ore that was more widespread and readily available than copper and tin. Stronger axes meant that woodland could be more rapidly cleared, and plough tips reinforced with iron meant heavier soils cloud be brought into cultivation. Farming settlements multiplied.

Lesson 9: Brochs

‘Broch’ is the name given to large, round, dry stone towers that are to be found only in Scotland. Over 500 are known but most today are just grass grown tumbled masses of stone that often look like natural hillocks…

Lesson 10: Hillforts

Hillforts were constructed from at least the beginning of the Iron Age, roughly 800 BC. They can be found right across Britain but are particularly clustered in Wiltshire and Dorset, and along the border of England and Wales.

Lesson 11: Chariots

Burials under square-ditched barrows occur in eastern Yorkshire from about 400BC. They are an unusual feature of the Iron Age; elsewhere there is virtually no evidence of burials until the appearance of kingdoms in south eastern England in the century before the Roman invasion of 43 AD. The fact that some of the east Yorkshire burials included a two-wheeled vehicle (presumably for the use of the deceased in the afterlife) makes them even more unusual.