Stones Tell Stories | James Dilley knaps replica teaching assemblages

◊ Dear Microburins,

The extraordinary James Dilley @ancientcraftUK is working through multi-period replica assemblages for my lithics training workshops this year, and beyond. The workshops deal with the archaeological aspects of lithic assemblages—chronological trends, research questions, technology, typology, identification, function, field archaeology best practices, analysis, recording and interpretation. The teaching materials also include other material culture associations, such as ceramics courtesy of Graham Taylor @pottedhistory and Bronze Age artefacts by Neil Burridge.Dilley_Teaching

artisans at large


Mesolithic Footsteps | Upper Dee Tributaries Project video

Dee◊ Dear Microburins,

A new video on Vimeo released this month about the project in Scotland. Thanks to Caroline Wickham-Jones for sharing.

“Get behind the scenes with archaeologists and scientists as they explore 10,000 years of human history on the Mar Lodge Estate – uncover the links between tiny flint tools, climate change and pit-roast venison.”


Dearne Valley Archaeology Day 2016 | Pioneers, Hangers-on and Newcomers

Elmet◊ Microburin is delighted to have a poster accepted for Elmet Archaeological Services popular archaeology day, Sat 28 May at Dearne Valley College, South Yorkshire – with a keynote address by Carenza Lewis!

Pioneers, Hangers-on and Newcomers:
New Evidence for Early Mesolithic, Late Mesolithic and Neolithic Transition in North-East Yorkshire

Spencer D Carter
Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University

Keywords: Mesolithic, Neolithic transition, Lithics, Radiocarbon dates, Palaeo-environment

TVA_ECW2Our understanding of the late and post-glacial archaeology of north-east Yorkshire and the Tees–Swale river catchments has, surprisingly, changed little since reconnaissance work in the mid-to-late 20th century, often poorly recorded. Since Jeff Radley’s 1969 paper The Mesolithic Period in North-East Yorkshire, and subsequent syntheses, little new data – or reliable radiocarbon chronologies – have been added to the archaeological record. The palaeo-environmental context, however, is much better understood after decades of research.

This poster presents new lithics and feature-based evidence in ‘persistent places’, spanning the six thousand years of the Mesolithic. Thirteen new radiocarbon determinations suggest the possibility of a very late and ‘terminal’ Mesolithic presence, aligned to pre-elm decline landscape disturbance sequences, around the fifth to fourth millennium cal BC transition in the uplands – commensurate with Early Neolithic structural evidence on the coast.


The Early Lateness of Being | Mesolithic pit house at Ronaldsway Isle of Man

OAN_Ronaldsway◊ Dear Microburins,

The folks at Oxford Archaeology North have just offered us a hint of a spectacular Mesolithic find at Ronaldsway airport, Isle of Man, excavated in 2009—and during night shifts due to this being an airport. Some of you may have had the pleasure of lectures by Microburin friends Fraser Brown and Antony ‘Dick’ Dickson. This discovery is named Cass ny Hawin II since a similar structure was excavated by Peter Woodman in the 1980s.

A 7m diameter pit hut with a hazel floor included lithics of a ‘narrow blade’ (later Mesolithic) technology. Radiocarbon determinations suggest activity around 8200-7950 cal BC, and so this is a very early ‘Late Mesolithic’ occupation. The dates, and nature of the evidence, are comparable with structures recently discovered at Low Hauxley¹ and Howick on today’s Northumberland coast, similar structures at East Barns and Echline in southern Scotland, and hints of something similar (but early 20th-century excavations in sand dunes) on the south Durham Coast at Crimdon Dene.

¹ Full publication anticipated later in 2016 by Archaeological Research Services Ltd.

Some archaeologists posit that these provide evidence for an immigration, or movement of ‘refugees’, from the drowning Doggerland landmass, inundated by the North Sea through the eighth to seventh millennium BC.


Submerged Prehistory and Palaeolandscapes of the British Isles | Free Paper until Jan 2016

Excellent open access paper (and bibliography) free to download until 30 January 2016
Bicket, A. and Tizzard, L. (2015) A Review of the Submerged Prehistory and Palaeolandscapes of the British Isles. Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association 126: 643–663.
DoggerlandImage | Doggerland inundation after Sturt, F., Garrow, D. and Bradley, S. (2013) New models of North West European Holocene palaeogeography and inundation. Journal of Archaeological Science 40 (11): 3963–3976.


WessexWessex Archaeology write:

Wessex Archaeology, Coastal & Marine and Geoservices divisions, have been developing market-leading expertise in submerged prehistory and palaeolandscapes research for well over a decade. As part of our remit to disseminate our work we have synthesised the results of the last 15 years of the many commercial investigations and research in this newly-published review for the Proceedings of the Geologists’ Association.


The paper summarises over a century of interest in submerged prehistoric landscapes under the North Sea and around all the coasts of the British Isles, from early theories trying to understand how our early prehistoric ancestors lived within now-flooded offshore landscapes to current high-tech survey methods for investigating sites and inundated river systems. The review provides a comprehensive bibliography and online resources (many open-access) to encapsulate the work to-date on this fascinating and rapidly developing discipline of submerged prehistoric archaeology.


We can share the article via this link until January 30, 2016, no sign up or registration is needed – just click and read! After this date the site provides an abstract and a login prompt.


Note | The download link above worked better in Internet Explorer than Mozilla Firefox.


Archaeology Podcasts | Gathering Night with Schools Prehistory | Mesolithic Archaeology

…and not just for kids!

Prehistories_GathNightKim Biddulph, Director of Schools Prehistory, has launched a series of podcasts where she invites archaeologists and experts in teaching prehistory to review books about Britain BC.

GatheringNightWithout intending any hubris here, I had the immense pleasure of reviewing the fantastic novel The Gathering Night by Margaret Elphinstone – with Caroline Wickham-Jones and Kim. Our 2.5 hour recorded session has been deftly edited to 1hr:20mins where we talk to the archaeological and environmental record around which the author has woven a beautiful story. That story is replete with people, with names, in a tangible and changing environment, a landscape with names, seasons with names, and a mega disaster which is very real. We know it happened. It was terrifying.

There are genders, generations, a crime story, gossip around fires and shamanistic – rites of passage – events. There is also social justice and a perception of – a relationship with – the natural environment that only echoes in a tiny but persistent way in our present, modern supermarket lives. Those engaged with this week’s COP21 Climate Change summit in Paris might find some sustenance in what we already know. It’s archaeology. But do we ever learn?

Recommended Reading

  • B Finlayson (2005) Wild Harvesters: The First People in Scotland. The Making of Scotland (Historic Scotland Series). Edinburgh: Birlinn.
  • V Gaffney, S Fitch and D Smith (2009) Europe’s Lost World: The rediscovery of Doggerland. York: Council for British Archaeology.
  • J Leary (2015) The Remembered Land: Surviving Sea-level Rise after the Last Ice Age. London: Bloomsbury.
  • C Waddington (2014) Rescued from the Sea: An Archaeologist’s Tale. Newcastle-upon Tyne: Archaeological Research Services and Northumberland Wildlife Trust.
  • G Warren (2010) Mesolithic Lives in Scotland. Stroud: The History Press.
  • C Wickham-Jones (2010) Fear of Farming. Oxford: Windgather Press.


Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University.
Timevista archaeology.