Neolithic leather has been examined at the University to uncover the secrets of what is believed to be the UK’s oldest piece ever found.

Dr James Elliot, Senior Lecturer in Diagnostic Radiography, has been working alongside Archaeologist Steve Tomlinson, to learn about the mysteries of the piece of leather, thought to date back to the same time Stonehenge was built between 4,600 to 4,488 years ago.

Dr James Elliott has specialist knowledge of X-rays in archaeology. He explains: “Leather is low density and difficult to x-ray but we took some great images.

“From the outset the X-ray provides a permanent record of its state of preservation. It also gives clues to its identity and perhaps clues to how it is constructed.”

Steve Tomlinson found the piece when out mudlarking and has since met with the British Museum on his find.

‘It was just washing up within an area of thick clay mud but the item looked very interesting and certainly looked to have some good age to it,’ he said.

‘After carbon dating there was an astonishing result, dating back to the time when the inner circle of Stonehenge was built, but also dates to the building reconstruction of the Egyptian Pyramids in Giza. Early examination suggests it could be part of a leather bag or water bottle.

‘It also shows signs of a waterproofing agent which has been applied and coated onto the leather – possible Beeswax common in the neolithic period, ochre, or possible brain mater – which will be looked at further in the future. 

“It’s an incredible feeling that I have, as this now opens up history at all levels, and we can learn so much from this, it will also be amazing to share this with members of the public as well as potentially in the future undertake further research online or for dissertation work.’

In 2022 Steve also discovered Britain's oldest shoe which after carbon dating dated back to the late Bronze age 888-781BC.

Both discoveries were featured on BBC Two’s Digging for Britain.