THE world’s oldest crayon – dating back 10,000 years – has been dug up.

Archaeologists have discovered our ancestors were more colourful than previously thought, using crayons from 8,000BC to colour homes and clothes. Researchers from the University of York discovered the ochre crayon near an ancient lake – now underneath a peat bog – close to Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

After dating the drawing stick, which is 22mm long and 7mm thick, they reckon it was used for applying colour to animal skins or artwork.

Ochre is an important mineral pigment used by prehistoric hunter-gatherers, and this find suggests it was collected and processed in different ways in the Mesolithic period.

The artefacts were found at Seamer Carr and Flixton School House. Both sites are situated in a landscape rich in pre-history, including one of the most famous Mesolithic sites in Europe, Star Carr. A pendant found at Star Carr in 2015 is the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain.

Lead author, Dr Andy Needham of the University of York’s Department of Archaeology, said the latest discovery furthered our understanding of Mesolithic life. He said: “Colour was a very significant part of hunter-gatherer life and ochre gives you a very vibrant red colour. It is very important in the Mesolithic period and seems to be used in a number of ways.“ “One of the latest objects we have found looks exactly like a crayon – the tip is faceted and has gone from a rounded end to a really sharpened end, suggesting that it has been used.

“It is a very significant object and helps us build a bigger picture of what life was like in the area; it suggests it would have been a very colourful place.”

The research team reckon the site at Flixton was a key location in the Mesolithic period, but has fallen on hard times in the proceeding ten millennia.