Microburin is awf to Yorkshire | Smell of prehistory in the air

FOR IT IS DIGGING SEASON AND THE SEASONING IS GOOD!

Kiplin-Hall-560Dear Microburins,

Been busy writing up some lithics in the temporary luxury of the air-conditioned lab, outside temperature above 30, experiencing delight with the new desk-clamped anglepoise camera attachment device thingy and gossiping with my neighbouring office friends – who have nothing to do with heritage or archaeology let alone tiny lithic tools – about what I’m up to. I love how interested they are and the brilliant questions they ask. I’m even Tweeped-up with the lovely office manager, Lenka, who observed my early antics (and burglarized anxieties) as I tried to make sense of excavation outputs. Turns out that the corporate film company, next door, know the DIG Ventures crew through family. Archaeology does get about a bit.

Tool boxes x2, bags, undies (unserialised), caps hats and bonnets, insect repellents, mattocks, ranging poles, hampers, odd socks and coolboxes are now packed for the next adventure – the annual digging round, this time supervising and training volunteers on an exciting project in North Yorkshire. There’s more than 10,000 years of archaeology in prospect here, post-glacial up to the present day. The most enjoyable aspect, as always, as every one of the past few years, is the direct human repartee – the crowd of folks from amazing backgrounds – who make any fieldwork compelling and rewarding.

I hope you have a brilliant summer too – much appreciate you taking an interest.

Charting Chipeling – The Archaeology of Kiplin Hall

Kiplin_KidsFor the past six months we’ve been slowly uncovering the archaeology of the Kiplin Hall grounds through a variety of archive research, landscape and earthwork survey, historic building recording and test-pitting. Now the three-week excavation is upon us and you are very welcome to come to Kiplin and take part in the excavations. The dig will be running from Monday 28 July to Friday 15 August (except Sundays) and there are currently spaces available on all days.

george_calvertTargets to be excavated include a ditch-and-bank enclosure currently thought to be part of the wider medieval grange that pre-dated the Jacobean Hall, built by the founder of Baltimore USA, a probable post-medieval brick kiln and the line of the medieval and potentially earlier road that preceded the turnpike road to Northallerton. Anybody interested please contact jb@solsticeheritage.co.uk with your preferred dates and he’ll add you to the list.

More information on the project can also be found at www.chartingchipeling.co.uk

Spence

Photography, Diplomacy and Grub | 1986 archaeology on a moor in Yorkshire

Dear Microburins.

Danby RiggI was flipping through some old (scanned) pictures from the prehistory of my archaeological past and thought you might enjoy these. It’s 1986 throw-back time, the second season investigating the Bronze Age upland landscape on Danby Rigg in the beautiful Esk valley on the North York Moors.

Aerial photography | On-site diplomacy | Sectioned lunch

The Bronze Age triple dykes subsequently radiocarbon dated to the Viking period, which was a surprise. The Durham University project included re-examination of a Bronze Age ring cairn with a large monolith, proving it to have at least one cremation burial.

Ring cairnThe landscape survey plotted the entire network of field systems and cairns hidden under the heather—certainly one of the most comprehensive surveys of its kind in north-east England, and executed before the advent of GPS or Total Station technology, but we did have an EDM. This was all dumpy level and back-sighting. I’m proud to be able to set up a theodolite in five seconds, while sleeping!

There is a tenuous Mesolithic connection in that, on the long walk up to the moor each morning, Microburin discovered a small Mesolithic assemblage at relatively low altitude. It included some blades and a scraper with edge gloss from processing plant materials, but no microliths. A large Mesolithic core was, inevitably, lying at the bottom of the deepest Viking ditch (residual). It’s a bit like the “token” sherd of Roman Samian Ware (posh dinner service crockery) found most other places, no matter what period you’re digging.

AF Harding Danby RiggHarding, A., Ostoja-Zagorski, J. 1994. Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, North Yorkshire, Archaeological Journal 151, 16-97.

The plans and sections are mostly mine, but some cheeky rascal got the credit.

Spence

Bio updated | 2013 fieldwork and Lithoscapes added

Spence-at-SHF13Dear Microburins, I’ve just updated my bio in case you’re interested in the latest fieldwork and a joint archaeological venture in-the-making with my colleague Paul Preston. I have also uploaded a summary paper about the Intertidal Prehistoric Peat Beds at Redcar in Cleveland, North-East England which is available to view on academia.edu. I’m grateful to Francis Pryor and Maisie Taylor for commenting on the pictures of possible stone axe marks and coppicing/copparding. The majority of the peat beds are now (October 2013) covered with beach sand again.

You can learn more about the peat beds north of the Tees Estuary in an earlier post

Spence

UK Mesolithic Sites and Finds | Recent updates

toadbootRecent updates to Microburin’s UK Mesolithic Sites and finds page and Scoop.it Microburin news aggregation webpage include:

  • Amesbury, Wiltshire | As the 2013 excavation season of this intriguing wetland site near Stonehenge continues, significant dietary evidence seems—according to press excitement—to include amphibians. But then the media hype this last week, suggesting the “English” ate frogs legs (or toads) before the French, needs some perspective, not least because we were still joined to continental Europe at the time! A partly charred leg bone in a fire hardly constitutes a “come dine with/on me” gastronomic venture? There are many reasons as to how such bones (or a single bone) could have arrived there—and unfortunately we have no human faeces (number twos) to examine. So for me this remains an intriguing but unprovable (if not terribly surprising) possibility—perhaps a leap of faith a little too far for now.

Now, anyone want crabapple chutney on their hedgehog burger? How’s your stoat kebab, Poika?

For an even more skeptical view, read Digital Digging’s blogpost (with a few well-considered profanities) »

  • Bletchingley, Surrey | 2005-06 excavation of extensive flint scatters, pits, hearths and activity areas.
  • Bradford Kaims, Northumberland | Ongoing excavations of an exciting wetland site with Neolithic burnt mounds, Late Mesolithic-into-Neolithic lithics and, this season, a wooden “paddle” that seems to date to the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition and may have been used for moving hot stones versus boating. Bradford Kaims is part of the crowd-funded Bamburgh Research Project.

Spence

TEESSCAPES Teesside Archaeological Society eNews | Autumn 2013

The latest edition is out—packed with news and events! Two options are available:

» Read as an online e-magazine | NEW! Gorgeous format using ISSUU e-publishing
» Download as a PDF file | save to your computer and read offline

  • TEESSCAPES Autumn 2013Society News | 2
  • TAS Lectures | 4
  • Special Feature | 7
    Skeletons in your cupboard?
  • Activities and Events | 10
  • News Roundup | 16
  • Site Notes | 22
  • Browser | 25
  • About TAS and how to join | 26

Remember | eNews is free – spread the word about TAS!

Uncover the hidden heritage of North East England

Spence | Twitter @microburin

Bradford Kaims Neolithic-Mesolithic wetland | Great new video from Bamburgh Research Project

Bradford Kaims is the latest venture of Bamburgh Research Project, working with the local community, volunteers and Universities to investigate a truly remarkable preserved ancient wetland site, located a few miles from Bamburgh, near the village of Lucker in Northumberland. The work has been supported by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage.

BRP-BK-VideoThis latest short video, one of three, gives an idea of the great potential of the site but also the risks from water table fluctuations and drying—as always adding a sense of urgency to recovery before it’s too late.

“We were very fortunate to have Dr Richard Tipping, an expert in environmental sciences, out with a group of staff and volunteers. His knowledge is extensive and his enthusiasm was definitely infectious. There is something almost magical about preservation properties of peat and the ability of a real expert to read a core sample in the manner of an open book of environmental history.”

The extensive wetland that formed here in the Late Glacial period was a large lake system throughout the Holocene. Pollen and palaeo-environmental evidence recovered from deep auger cores spans the last 12,000 years. Many sites of archaeological interest are known in this area, from Mesolithic and Neolithic scatters, to Bronze Age cairns and votive deposits, Iron Age hillforts and Medieval villages.

Spence | Twitter @microburin