Extraordinary news | Flixton mesolithic landscape for sale

Dear Microburins,

ForSaleExtraordinary news from the Star Carr project team (University of York) is that part of the Vale of Pickering, containing Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic wetland archaeology, is on the market for £550,000 or as four lots* – see the links and image below.

*Lots 3 (£125,000, 25 acres) and 4 (£305,000, 61 acres) contain Flixton Island and No Name Hill respectively.

The pasture, under a short-term stewardship agreement, is the location of Flixton Island and No Name Hill which were indeed islands in the post-glacial palaeo-lake Flixton. This is a beautiful landscape and wildlife habitat sitting between the Yorkshire Wolds and North York Moors in an area where tourism is a major economic component. Recent excavations have proven organic preservation under surviving peat that includes a horse butchery site and several Early Mesolithic activity areas. As the project team point out, the risk is that the future owner or owners will not be sympathetic to this special archaeological resource and that, at the end of the stewardship cycle which brings in a modest annual income, agricultural practices may revert to arable, destructive activities. I do note that the archaeological assets are hardly mentioned in the PDF brochure and that only the nearby Star Carr is an archaeological scheduled area – and rapidly drying out.

Flixton-landsale

Microburin comment

Is there any hope that the partnership capabilities of charitable organisations, perhaps with sympathies from national and governmental bodies, might come together in order to purchase the land and secure it for the broader public? The Vale of Pickering is a rich natural (if managed) resource as evangelised by the likes of the Carrs Wetland Project. £550,000 is a modest sum in terms of Heritage Lottery and land management initiatives that receive support. Indeed, compare with the considerable sums raised to rescue treasure trove finds in recent years and the success of crowd-sourcing projects that enable public access to heritage, nature and learning. The Crosby Garret Roman parade helmet sold, regrettably, to a private bidder for £2.3M and yet the Tullie House Museum was able to raise £1.7M in an attempt to secure it. £0.55M seems less daunting?

StarCarrReconWould the very special habitat – and its development as a public asset – not garner the interest of the National Trust and RSPB? After all, they also bring the relevant land management expertise and oversight to conserve complex living landscapes? Is a campaign out of the question?

There is already a Vale of Pickering Trust that supports the archaeological ventures and has done so for many years – so is the coordination vehicle already there?

If only I had the savings, I’d jump at this in a second: more lottery tickets I guess!

Stop Press – Nature offers a great ROI!

Just published today by Natural England, a new report demonstrates the value for money delivered by investing in the natural environment – wetland habitats being an important one – including carbon storage, resilience to climate change, health and well-being, and attractiveness to future investment, tourism and recreation.

“The Monitor of Engagement with the Natural Environment survey demonstrates that in 2012-13, 2.85 billion visits were made to the natural environment with expenditure totalling from £17.6 – £24.5 billion.”

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Mesolithic videos updated | Firelighters

Mesolithic fire-makingRoeland Paardekooper | 07-Jun-2014 Youtube

Meso_fireSix-and-a-half minutes of Mesolithic fire-making at the archaeological open-air museum Oerlinghausen (despite there being a fire already lit behind!). Werner is using a bow-and-drill and then tinder. There is a momentary intrusion of 21st-century curiosity, but otherwise this is pleasantly atmospheric.

Certain fungi, such as horse’s hoof (Fomes fomentarius) discovered at Star Carr, could also be used as tinder and to preserve smouldering embers while on the move, although this video demonstrates how quickly a fire can be ignited with dry materials. One can confidently predict that flint and iron pyrites would also have been used to generate sparks.

Werner Pfeiffer macht Feuer, Steinzeittagen 2014, Archäologisches Freilichtmuseum Oerlinghausen www.afm-oerlinghausen.de

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Experimental Archaeology | Reconstructing the Holmegaard mesolithic bow

Dear Microburins,

This informative article by Jake Rowland (Digital Digging) offers insights into the design, construction and use of the mesolithic bow discovered at Holmegaard (Holmegårds Mose) in Denmark, dated to around 7000 BC. Two bows were discovered in 1944, one complete, and are now in the Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen.

HolmegaardBow500px

“For our Mesolithic ancestors, the effectiveness of the stone tools used by the bowyer who made original Holmegaard bow couldn’t be measured by how much wood they removed or how easy they were to use, ultimately it came down to the effectiveness of the bow itself.  It wasn’t something made for recreation: it represented the survival of an entire people. It was the tool that put food on the table and ensured the longevity of our Mesolithic ancestor’s survival.”

Jake takes us through each of the steps, including the lithic (flint) technology brought to bear – and not without some damage to his adze which makes for interesting testing against our lithic artefactual records. He makes good observations about the effectiveness of flint versus chert (adze) and scrapers versus blades.

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Image | Creative Commons | Holmegaard1 CC BY-SA 3.0 | MartinFields

Just a little bit of fame | Desert Island mesolithic

In the pressDear Microburins,

I’m humbled to have had my ten archaeological book choices, for a cerebral desert island, published in a wonderful blog by Lorna Richardson (soon to be a PhD doctor Richardson care of University College London, viva on 4 July).

Image | Me in the middle front, aged 14, doing exactly the opposite of what the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette photographer asked. Usual. Everyone else “obeyed”: look at their eyes, look into their eyes…

This is a lovely initiative by Lorna, the Desert Island one, asking archaeologists to select the ten tomes that they would take to their sea-lapped, crustacean-riven island. Everyone is welcome to contribute through 2014. After that, who knows? Will you crash, burn and swim from a Fedex package somewhere over the Pacific Ocean? When I do, I promise I’ll be drinking a rather large and serious Baileys on ice.

PS, I recanted the “Spence” story to mam last week (she is not Tinternet-enabled) and she cried again. Mams, eh? Dad is long-since buried/scattered, but missed for sensible financial advice (after graduation).

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Chert Fishing by JR Hartley? | In search of Mesolithic raw materials in Swaledale

Gallery

This gallery contains 19 photos.

Dear Microburins, May has been an extraordinarily busy month enhanced by the onset of Spring – albeit with some rather torrential episodic rain showers (or storms). The climax of the month really had to be the Lithoscapes kick-off conference held … Continue reading

Archaeology Campaign by BAJR | Fight the pay sink-hole

Dear Microburins,

I can’t say anything better here than my good friend David Mennear at These Bones of Mine, and so here’s a snippet and a link to his overview:

The British Archaeology Jobs and Resource (BAJR) site has recently unleashed a new campaign aimed at highlighting job adverts that pay more than the minimum salary wage.  The More than Minima campaign aims to highlight and recognise any job advertisement on the BAJR website that pays beyond the minima as a starting rate, which helps to promote fair pay within the archaeological industry. Advertisements that meet this criteria will have the BAJR green thumbs up logo attached to the job advertisements so that potential applicants can immediately know that the company and position pay above the recognised and current pay grades.

Minima logo

On all archaeological job advertisements on the BAJR website look out for the green thumbs up logo to show that the advertisement offers a More than Minima salary (Image courtesy of David Connolly/BAJR).

We must all join together to fight for professional standards, recognition and fair pay for a skilled job in archaeology and the heritage industries. We contribute positively to UK GDP, to tourism and foot-fall, to community well-being by fostering a sense of place, belonging, responsibility and guardianship as the core of our inclusive values.

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