Finds catalogues posted | Lovely feedback

9000 Years of Hunting at LownaIt was great to receive a lovely email this morning from the farmers who let me walk their fields in April at Lowna, North York Moors. Mrs Wass enjoyed the storyboard of human activity next to the River Dove. It’s a story that spans probably 9,000 years from the Late Mesolithic, into the Neolithic and Bronze Age—right up to the last 300 years. A clay tobacco pipe and musket gunflint may well have belonged to her husband’s ancestor—they’ve been in the Lowna area since at least the 18th Century. By plotting all the finds it is possible to see where certain activities were taking place, where likely hearths or campfires were located, and what people were doing:

  • Flint-knapping and making tools | there’s a great Late Mesolithic core and possible microburin
  • Scraping and cutting around fires | proportionately lots of scrapers for working animal skins, fish, wood, vegetable material
  • Cooking either in pots or skins | “potboiler” stones likely used to heat liquids indirectly (Neolithic pottery is fragile and unlikely to survive in the field)
  • Wood working | a possible Late Mesolithic tranchet adze fragment and legacy finds of polished flint and stone axes (HER records)

Mrs Wass wants to link the storyboard to her website for visitors to the area. I can’t emphasise enough how rewarding that feels | read more

finds catalogues | for the record

Finds CataloguesI have also just uploaded MS Excel finds catalogues for the projects underway. These are subject to change, work-in-progress. I haven’t uploaded the scattergram and density versions since the files are very large. The White Gill re-fit / re-join / raw material match charts are making my head hurt, but should be great once completed. I can see where reduction, tooling and discard activities were taking place in the chaîne opératoire. You can see an early snapshot on the White Gill Project page and in the PDF download | read more

That’s it on a fantastically warm late May weekend. Did somebody mention Eurovision? Perhaps Swedish meatballs for supper al humperdinck. Congratulations to Sweden!

Spence

Welcome to microburin’s humid mesolithic heritage

adders and bogs | hunter-gatherers | shipping forecasts | clean sections | tidy spoil heaps |

British Addermicroburin is my space for idea sharing. It’s also a space where I want to present the projects I am working on, and get your feedback. It will be evident very quickly that I walk on and in peat bogs, dales, valleys and rivers, wet places, that I love the wild landscapes of north-east England, and that I sometimes get bitten by adders, fall down holes or griffs.

Participate in HeritageThat’s where the White Gill project began.

I hope it’s also evident what I am doing with my time on a career break, using it well. I have a gazillion questions of the past—our ancient ancestors, our cultural heritage, the way we manage, promote or destroy it—as well as questions of myself in the present, of my generation and of the aspirations that many of us share.

sustainability | debate | shipping forecasts

Seamer Carr 1985

A wet place |  Seamer Carr, Vale of Pickering, 1985 (Tim Schadla-Hall). Mesolithic, close to Star Carr. It rained every day, portaloos were full, a force 9 storm wiped out tents, but the food and team spirit were fantastic (food c/o Helen Patterson and gratefully eaten in shed-loads). » Star Carr today

For today, my personal excitement and commensurate trepidation is not knowing entirely what happens next. In this difficult era of attrition, when heritage communities seem to be the forefront of debate, cutbacks, some successes—the National Trust and RSPB are doing very well indeed—the heritage sector is compromised by a lack of our society’s overt willingness to invest in longer term, sustainable initiatives. For me, the Stonehenge landscape debacle is a good example of procrastination and short-termism. It seems to be Heritage Lottery Fund or nought, and yet media coverage has never been so visible, engaging, entertaining. But how much does archaeology bring upon itself? The academic-public-community debate is still a hot, humid weather front—overcast with sunny intervals, windy showers, chance of thunder (or listen to a BBC Radio 4 shipping forecast).

asking | listening | investing | dogma

Replica Iron Age house

Replica Iron Age house built by young offenders on community payback | Ryedale Folk Museum

I hope that my questions, my micro-projects and my passion about the past are enjoyable, occasionally taxing, sometimes funny.

I’ve made a primaeval step into video too, and the YouTube! See what you think? Friends on the Facebook want me in tweeds doing a hand-held guide to the Mesolithic. Nice friends!

The more I do fieldwork, the more I find people who are simply fascinated to know what their forebears did, why they did it, how and what they felt about it, and what we can learn from them. Everybody ate, pooped, itched, argued, smiled, smelt and danced in a funny way, like today.

Archaeology, its allied sciences and specializations can only answer so much. However, whomever you are, we can all surely ask questions of our ancestors through what they left behind. We can care about them, their achievements, their legacy to us and its preservation, and therefore about ourselves, our descendants.

A Wicked Section

Seamer Carr, 1985 | Wickedly clean section.

Through the many thousands, indeed millions of years, of hominid and human creativity we could do a lot worse than pause, listen to, question, learn from them. If we do we might add new energy to—and investment in—an innate curiosity about our collective selves, diversifying communities, the wild outdoors such as it still exists, the human unknowns? We might do worse than question our persistent assumptions too, maybe think outside of a dogmatically “free-market” constrained box.

Tidy Spoil

A tidy spoil heap |  somewhere early Iron Age in Poland, 1987.

If everything else fails, do please always present a good clean section, a tidy spoil heap and be attentive when watching the venerated Time Team. There may be a test afterwards.

PS do you subscribe to Francis Pryor’s archaeo-agri-gardening blog? Always a good read—In The Long Run. See some other recommendations

 Spence