An alert nine-year-old stopped his granddad throwing away a 6,000-year-old flint axe head which he had mistaken for a regular stone.
Tony Page didn’t realise the significance of the find as he walked with grandson and Cub Scout Owen on a footpath in Little Totham.
“I was picking up stones and just throwing them for the dog,” said Mr Page. “When I picked this up my grandson said it was something special. It was a like an extra large arrowhead.
“He is only nine but he is very much into fossils.”
In any case it was a bit too large for the dog, a Lakeland terrier cross called Tess, said Tony, 73, of Sawyers Road, Little Totham.
The “whitish” flint was about five inches by three inches and cut down each side.
Owen, a Year 5 pupil at Tolleshunt D’Arcy Primary School, said: “I saw the way the flint was grooved and thought it could be a tool.
“I was quite chuffed when I found it was so old. I’m going to keep it at home for the time being.”
Owen took the axe head to Ed Heigham, the leader of his Cub Scout pack at Tollesbury, who is a qualified archaeologist and deputy director of a dig in the county.
She said: “It’s very easily recognised, absolutely smashing. I was taken aback.”
Owen brought it in as it was similar to flints she had been showing Cub Scouts taking their heritage badge.
“It’s a Neolithic hand axe that has been through the first stage of polishing. It’s actually broken,” she added.
But it appeared that the chips of flint had been used to make other tools like arrowheads in the Neolithic period, also known as the New Stone Age.
“I told them that it is a really early example of recycling,” she said.
But no one can pinpoint how the axe reached Little Totham.
Archaeologists are now considering a field walk over the area to check for further finds.
Curator of archaeology at Colchester Museum Dr Paul Sealey said: “Axes of this kind were tools used by the first farmers and when they arrived here they were faced with more or less continuous forest cover, apart from salt marshes on the coast and a few features.
“Faced with the daunting prospect of having to clear this forest cover, axes were one of the most important tools at their disposal.”
He is hoping that the museum, which already has other axe heads from the period will be able to examine the find.
Meanwhile Owen has been presented with a flint finder’s certificate by the Endeavour Cub Pack.
From This Is Total Essex