in search of seasonal transit routes | nine thousand years of hunting
field-walking | finds-plotting
In April 2012 I conducted field-walking at Broom Hill, Lowna, Gillamoor. Broom Hill is a sloping terrace immediately above the flood plain of the River Dove, situated towards the southern end of Farndale at the point where the river cuts through the Tabular Hills escarpment. Additionally, the author inspected a small flint assemblage collected by famers from the summit of the Tabular escarpment during the mid-to-late 20th Century.
A large field occupies the gently sloping terrain to the south of a small stream, Ramsgill, and to the west of the River Dove, ranging in altitude from 138m OD to 81m OD—and so a relatively low level for Mesolithic activity. The river is bounded by a flood terrace c. 100-150m wide which has cut into the east-facing slop to form a lynchet. The field terminates three to four meters above this terrace.
A slight ridge runs west to east parallel to Ramsgill and becomes more pronounced as a north-south sandy ridge parallel to the River Dove. A “U” shaped area is evident to the west of this sandy ridge—evident during field-walking as it retained moisture and the sprouting crops were more advanced. The sandy ridge itself was significantly eroded down to base geology at the very eastern boundary before a steeper slope down to the escarpment of the flood terrace. The soils parallel to Ramsgill are of clay/gley type.
A small flint assemblage was recovered from the right-angled sandy ridge. Of a total of 52 lithic artefacts and debitage (natural items excluded), one is a late 17th to 18th Century AD gun flint (and a clay pipe of similar date) and a second is a pebble whetstone of indeterminate age (prehistoric to late historical). While the remaining flints were scattered across the sandy ridge, one cluster containing a Late Mesolithic core and core fragments was recorded. The finer bladelet core from the area closest to the river terrace is associated with five blade and bladelet fragments and a core trimming flake retouched as a small scraper. The core is heavily “spurred” at the platform, identical to some (but not all) Farndale and Westerdale examples. Across the ridge and on the gentle slope south-westwards into the central “lower area” were found more burnt and calcined pieces, including “pot-boiler” type nodules of small size. The scatter of artefacts contains a significant proportion of scrapers that would not be out of place in a Late Mesolithic assemblage.
One example is on a larger patinated flake and may be Neolithic. One potential microburin and an irregular “microlith” were recovered in addition to a possible tranchet adze fragment. Also noteworthy is the relative lack of debitage—if primary knapping and secondary core reduction was taking place. While this might be significant, it is also feasible that previous unrecorded removals have taken place, or that a combination of erosion and soil movement have either masked or removed these components.
The other lithic clusters were of Neolithic to early Bronze Age character with hard hammer, irregular flake-and-blade reduction, multiple platform cores and expedient use of locally occurring material all in evidence. Some raw material matches support the clustering observations.
Only two Sites & Monuments Records exist. SMR 762 is a polished greenstone (Langdale) Neolithic axe found during ploughing in 1959-60 “under an old hedge bank”) with a flint “knife”. The grid reference is on the sandy ridge towards the southern end. SMR 770 seems to be a flint axe fragment “found by Mr. J. Baxter of Lowna” (1890) and now lost (1952). It’s location, while uncertain, is recorded as just to the north of the Ramsgill-Dove junction.
Gibson Collection, Manor Farm, Gillamoor
The author was able to inspect a small and mixed collection of flints from the fields at the top of Highfield Lane, Gillamoor—towards the edge of the Tabular Hills escarpment. Some Late Mesolithic pieces were present—bladelet core and core trimmings and small blade and bladelet fragments. There were no microliths, but there were small scrapers. Other pieces were retouched flake-based flints of Neolithic to Bronze Age character.
The author extends sincere thanks to Ruth and David Wass for field-walking permission and to Adam Gibson, Manor Farm, for allowing inspection of his finds. Mr. Wass’ family have lived at Lowna since at least 1790, and so the gun flint and clay pipe (1730-1770) may be his ancestor’s!
This document is a status update for ongoing field-walking and assemblage analysis and is intended as a component contribution to the final stage of the NE Yorkshire Mesolithic Project and the regional Historical Environment Record (HER). Illustrations and interpretations included here are provisional.
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