Feel the heat | It’s a cremated Mesolithic colleague

◊ Dear Microburins,

OA_Some_cremated_remains_by_typeExciting news reported on social media today. Despite a few questionable media-focused soundbites, Oxford Archaeology have reported something important. Expected to be Bronze Age, cremated (or at least burnt) human bones – a proportion of an entire body – have been AMS-dated to around 5600 cal BC on a developer-led commercial excavation at Langford, Essex. With so few related finds in the UK and Ireland, and even our Doggerland neighbours on the other side of the North Sea basin, generalisations are still as risky, as are any specific conclusions drawn. However, whether or not we are looking in the right places for the deceased, this adds to the record in a valuable way. I suspect the true value will still take us Mesolithic archaeologists many generations to fathom, but good work!

Spence

Image courtesy of © Oxford Archaeology.

Charting Chipeling | Kiplin Hall archaeology exhibition opens 3 April

◊ Dear Microburins,

I’m pleased to announce here that an archaeology exhibition opens on Good Friday at Kiplin Hall near Catterick, North Yorkshire and runs until 28 October.

One-thousand-and-one finds will be on display tracking the prehistory and history of the hall and its estate from the Mesolithic to WWII. This was a fantastic community dig to be involved in last year, truly cross-community, generations and backgrounds, including students from Maryland University. Hopefully there’ll be some great pictures from the inaugural open evening event just before the public launch (my esteemed professor will be there, so I’ll need to prep!).

The monograph on the 2014 excavations is due later this year with Jim Brightman, Solstice Heritage, pulling together the specialist reports, including the prehistoric flint and chert lithics by you know who. My favourite find, however, remains the racing pigeon leg-ring with serial number from the 1960s found in proximity to gun cartridges.

Originally one of Easby Abbey’s monastic granges, Kiplin Hall is a gem of a stately home, trust and volunteer-run, with fantastic grounds, a huge lake, walled garden—you can often buy the lush produce—and plenty to see in a tranquil setting a few miles from the A1 near Brompton-on-Swale and Scorton. A watching-brief excavation in January this year, in a pipe trench, also seems to have revealed evidence for the pre-Jacobean manor’s demolition deposits.

Spence

Island Mesolithic | Late Mesolithic microliths from Isles of Scilly

◊ Dear Microburins,

TAS_Bulletin_19_2014_CvrWhile my head is down in editorial work – Teesside Archaeological Society’s annual Bulletin journal with 70 pages of regional wonder and CBA Yorkshire’s FORUM YORKSHIRE archaeological journal volume 3, my last as editor – I came across the AHRC-funded project “Neolithic Stepping Stones”, June 2011 to September 2014.

This builds on recent discoveries and more prospecting along the western coast of the British Isles and includes Late Mesolithic microliths recently discovered on the Isles of Scilly:

 

Isles of Scilly | Neolithic Stepping Stones Project (University of Reading, AHRC)
Stepping stones to the Neolithic: Islands, maritime connectivity and the ‘western seaways’ of Britain, 5000-3500 BC’ looked to five island groups and the surrounding seas for answers. These were the Channel Islands, Isles of Scilly, Isle of Man, Outer Hebrides and Orkney. “Another exciting find came from the Isles of Scilly dig, which unearthed a stash of around 50 microliths, tiny flint tools from the Mesolithic (pre-Neolithic) era. Rather than being of British design, these are in Belgian and northern French style. “That was very unexpected,” says Garrow. “It tells us that people were sailing between northern France, Belgium and the Isles of Scilly around 6000 BC. It’s a very good sign of pre-Neolithic maritime contact.”

Another outcome of the project is a book co-authored by Dr Garrow, Dr Sturt and post-doctoral researcher Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark. ‘Continental connections: exploring cross-channel relationships from the Mesolithic to the Iron Age’ (Oxbow) will be published by March 2015.

Scilly_microlith

One of the 57 Mesolithic microliths found at Old Quay in 2013 (photo: Hugo Anderson-Whymark).

The team have also produced a series of web resources drawing on the research, including a western seaways navigation game that works within Google Earth. And they used social media throughout the project – having such geographically dispersed participants made Twitter the perfect way to transmit updates.

Microburin’s Sites and Finds page has also been updated.

Spence

 

Bifacially speaking | TimeVista Archaeology is alive

TimeVista_Logo_BW2◊ Dear microburins, It’s been brewing for a little while. Spurred on by successful paid work through this year, a burgeoning human network on LinkedIn, the time seems right to make a full commitment to archaeology. Now’s the time to draw a line between the past career and the palpably exciting prospect of doing what I’m passionate about. It’ll be an experiment, for sure, and I’m certain there are going to be some difficult moments.  TVeye_sq1Nor does this all mean turning my back on twenty-odd years in the private sector. I’m seizing the chance to mesh together the skills and experiences gained in operational and project management with those of commercial archaeology. This is surely reflexive change management, difficult though I am as the patient / customer / opportunity. Procrastination is too easy. I’d regret it for the rest of my life if I didn’t give it a try, extraordinary as it feels. So, TimeVista Archaeology is the new professional shop front, leaving microburin as the informal loud hailer, perhaps conscience. There’s much still to do: I need to sort out my CSCS safety card (deconstruction skills), Chartered Institute for Archaeologists application (peer review or die) and, if I’m to engage with activities to support prehistory in the national curriculum, I probably need a good vetting too – there’s a kid still inside this yellow-hatted archaeologist, which is a start. Of the many realities of being in one’s forties is to realise (a) there’s no such thing as grown-ups; (b) it’s OK not to like jazz, allegedly; and (c) apostrophes’ and, commas are very important indeed. That leaves me to thank you for your Microtalksupport, to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a rewarding, peaceful 2015, until next I holler from behind the spoil heap. ♦ Spence | “good with archaeology”

TimeVista_Web05

A very nice tweet indeed | Microburinesque Mesolithicology

Dear microburins,

Should this blog carry a safety message? ‘May contain burin spalls’? Meantime, Microburin is in north Northumberland on a commercial stint for a change. Be off with you, altruism!

CCCU_Twitter

Spence

Linking up archaeologists and heritage professionals on LinkedIn

Hi folks,

KIP14_T5_RWAfter an exquisite summer of digging and fieldwork, I’m landed back at the surrogate home in London W10. Some recent personal events – not pleasant ones – are now likely to fast-track a series life-changing decisions, including committing to the Masters next year with a burning passion to continue Mesolithic research (I now have ten 14C dates for White Gill!), perhaps renting out the London home and moving to the soul’s home in Yorkshire and the north of England. I’ve given notice on the lithics lab too – now too expensive to retain, with enough done to be able to continue “in the sitting room” which doubles as my library and portal on inner-city London life. This has been also a juncture where relations with Lithoscapes Archaeological Research Foundation ended to allow me to focus on commercially viable work. I appreciate their good wishes and value the collaboration during my time there.

LinkedInIn the last week I have been making connections with archaeologists, heritage, museum and related professions on the “professional” social media app LinkedIn.

  • My profile on LinkedIn spanning the past career in international sales operations, change management, customers services and NOW archaeology!
  • Why not connect with me? Believe in the human network and the power of togetherness.

Why LinkedIn?

“I’ve been on LinkedIn, as one of the first million UK users, for over a decade now – it was launched in 2003. It has also been immensely useful in terms of professional visibility, networking, recruitment (both directions) and informed discussions. This is my personal experience and I am certainly not in a sales role here! In essence, people can find you. Doors open, without having to share pet stories, favourite foods, funny walks, or the other miscellany implicit in social media.” | Read more in my post »

ASP_BAJRI think I am also now in a position, after substantial recent experience, to apply to the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA, and now with a Royal Charter) at the appropriate level, referees required (and primed), peer reviewed and requiring a commitment to ongoing career development. In this sense, the Archaeology Skills Passport developed by David Connolly at BAJR is a key tool.

More news will follow, and thanks for following me in these volatile but positive times. Hey, the fieldwalking, supported by Solstice Heritage, on Teesside “came up with the money” – lowland Late Mesolithic-Early Neolithic lithics presence (we have Early Mesolithic adjacent too) around a micro-wetland area for which English Heritage’s Rapid Assessment Toolkit is also useful. Much to wash and write up with a prospect, thanks to impassioned landowners, for more work next year. PS, by kind permission we are using (and tuning) the excellent fieldwork recording sheets developed by Clive Waddington’s Archaeological Research Services.

And life doesn’t get quieter

Ongoing commitments as Chair of the feisty Teesside Archaeological Society mean that we are also trying to engage on local authority-approved (but not archaeologically supported) planning debacles on Teesside. You can review our engagements and, frankly, frustrations in being an Advocate of Heritage At Risk on our facebook page. Acklam Hall, Middlehaven and increasing Green over Brownfield developments need a community to care about their heritage when due process threatens destroying it.

And, in my final term as CBA Yorkshire’s Editor, I will be focusing on the third volume of FORUM YORKSHIRE – our annual journal – for the final call-for-papers by end of this calendar year. If you are doing archaeology in Yorkshire….you know where to publish.

Spence