Mesolithic videos update
Having had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see an antler ‘headress’ in situ in the 2015 excavation season at Star Carr earlier this year (plus shed loads of flint, wood, antler and bone), here’s a short video from the dig team.
◊ Skulls, Shamans and Sacrifice in Stone Age Britain | Digging Diaries | 13-Jul-2015 Youtube (2min)
The Mesolithic settlement of Star Carr in North Yorkshire has fascinated archaeologists for decades. Nicky Milner and her digging team from York University are embarking on their final ever excavation on site to unlock the secrets of this mysterious landscape. They’ve been filming every moment of discovery to give us a glimpse into our ancient past.
Image | Prof Nicky Milner & Son at Flixton Island, 2014 (Microburin)
Mar Lodge Estate, Cairngorm mountains, Aberdeenshire | 2015 excavations by The National Trust for Scotland and archaeologists and environmental scientists from the University of Aberdeen, University of Stirling and University College Dublin with earlier than expected 14C radiocarbon dates | BBC News item 09-Jul-2015
Image | BBC Website.
◊ Dear Microburins,
This is to highlight an excellent short article about Mesolithic period cremation burials at Hermitage on the River Shannon. The article is on the Irish Archaeology website/blog and was published in March 2013.
“The three cremations at Hermitage are extremely significant and represent an important addition to the very small corpus of Mesolithic burials from Ireland. Not alone are they the oldest burials from the country but they also demonstrate that our earliest hunter-gather ancestors practiced a relatively sophisticated means of disposing of their dead.”
◊ Dear Microburins,
Exciting 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!
Image courtesy of © Oxford Archaeology.
◊ 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.
◊ Dear Microburins,
While 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.
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.