Archaeologists have found a prehistoric wetland site near Bamburgh which was a hive of human activity for at least 2,000 years.
The dry summer this year gave archaeologists from the Bamburgh Research Project a valuable opportunity to excavate part of the site at Bradford Kaims.
It is now wet pasture, but was once a series of shallow lakes connected by streams, which drained into Budle Bay.
They uncovered a wooden paddle, sitting on a brushwood platform, which dates from around 6,500 years ago at the start of the Neolithic period – the time of the very first farmers.
The paddle and platform were next to a burnt mound – piles of stones which had been heated by fire.
Project co-director Graeme Young said: “To find preserved organic material like this from this period is incredibly rare in Britain.
“The timber paddle was lying just on top of a timber platform, formed from round wood lengths pegged into the underlying layers.
“The platform would have been exciting enough, but the paddle is just outstanding.
“We think from parallels that it may be for moving the hot rocks off the burnt mound rather than paddling a canoe.
“At this moment we think the platform and paddle are very, very early Neolithic, making it in the order of 6,000 or more years old.”