Rare medieval bone flute unearthed in Kent, southeastern coast of England

Photo Credit: Cotswold Archaeology (Fair Use)

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology have unearthed a rare medieval bone flute during excavations in Herne Bay, located in Kent, southeastern coast of England.

Archaeologists were excavating the 61-hectare site, south of Hillborough, when they discovered the instrument, known as a ‘fipple flute’.Trenching in 2021 discovered features from the Late Bronze Age and Roman periods, as well as additional evidence of medieval activity.

The instrument was discovered inside a rectangular enclosure surrounded by a ditch. It was found in a layer with pottery dating to between the 12th and 15th centuries.

The flute was expertly carved from a sheep/goat tibia shaft and features five finger holes along the top and a thumb hole underneath. The researchers believe the flute is missing a mouthpiece, but it is otherwise complete and in excellent condition.