We always talk about knives and forks, never forks and knives, probably because the knife has the longest history. The first very simple cutting edges were made from flint and date back 2 million years, but recognisable blades were made out of stone from five hundred thousand years years ago during the palaeolithic period (500,000-10,000 B.C.)
By the Neolithic period four to seven thousand years ago (5000-2000 B.C.), stone blades were being polished and were fitted with crude handles along the top edge of the blade, which were made of wood or animal hides to protect the users hand.
Metal blade knives were first made from copper and then bronze in the years 3000-700 B.C., and they have many features that we still retain today. A bolster and tang was added so that a handle could be fitted to the end of the blade (just as they are today), and shapes developed that can still be seen in many carving knives that are still produced today. After the bronze age came the discovery that an iron blade had a much sharper and long-lasting edge, and iron knives were widely made from about 1000 years before the birth of Christ. The Romans in particular developed many different types of knife to suit a wide number of uses (including ritual animal sacrifices and knives for cutting hair!). Knives were considered to be very important possessions, and were treasured - people had their personal eating knives which they carried with them (they would not be provided at a table), and it was not unusual for people to be buried with their personal eating knives.
Personal eating knives first appeared in Britain in the 14th Century. However, individual forks to be used with the knives were not in widely used until the the end of the 16th Century in Britain. Interestingly, it was the Italians who first started using forks, and it took more than 50 years before they were adopted by the British - the Italians were obviously much more fussy about using dirty fingers to pick up pieces of food!
It is believed that forks were first developed from a small steadying knife that was used to hold a joint of meat steady whilst it was being carved. The single point turned into a single prong, and then a two-pronged fork, much like carving forks today. Three-pronged and four-pronged versions were developed as forks became smaller and more suited to eating with, rather than carving with.