Lowna and Gillamoor

in search of seasonal transit routes | nine thousand years of hunting

Broom Hill Lowna

field-walking | finds-plotting

River Dove Project | Intro Video (YouTube 2 mins)

River Dove Project | Intro Video | YouTube (2 mins)

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.

Broom Hill

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.

River Dove Project Geology

River Dove Project | Geology

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.

Broom Hill Lowna | Finds selection

Broom Hill Lowna | Finds selection

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.

Tranchet adze

Possible tranchet adze fragment

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.

previous finds

9,000 Years of Hunting

Lowna, North York Moors 2012. Nine Thousand Years of Hunting | a storyboard from the field-walking finds at Broom Hill

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!

Lowna and Gillamoor - click to download PDF

Click to download PDF | © Spencer Carter

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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selective references

Brooks, C., Daniels, R. & Harding, A.F. (2002) Past, Present and Future: The Archaeology of Northern England, Architec & Archaeol Soc of Durham & Northumberland Res Rep 5.
Conneller, C. & Warren, G. (eds.) (2006) Mesolithic Britain and Ireland, New Approaches.
Manby, T.G., Moorhouse, S. & Ottaway, P. (eds.) (2003) The Archaeology of Yorkshire: An assessment at the beginning of the 21st century, Yorks Archaeol Soc Occ Paper 3.
Mellars, P. & Dark, P. (eds.) (1998) Star Carr in Context: new archaeological and palaeoecological investigations at the Early Mesolithic site of Star Carr, North Yorkshire.
Mithen, S.J. (ed.) (2001) Hunter-Gatherer Landscape Archaeology, the South Hebridean Mesolithic Project 1988-1998, 2 vo.
North East Yorkshire Mesolithic Project (2008-2013) Website.
Radley, J. (1969) The Mesolithic Period in NE Yorkshire, Yorks  Archaeol J 42, 314-27.
Saville, A. (ed.) (2004) Mesolithic Scotland and its Neighbours, Soc Antiquaries of Scotland.
Simmons, I.G. (1996) The Environmental Impact of Later Mesolithic Cultures. The Creation of Moorland Landscape in England and Wales.
Simmons, I.G. & Innes, J.B. (1988) The Later Mesolithic Period (6000-5000bp) on Glaisdale Moor, North Yorkshire, Archaeol J 145, 1-12.
Spikins, P. (1999) Mesolithic Northern England, Environment, Population and Settlement, BAR 283.
Spratt, D.A. (ed.) (1993) Prehistoric and Roman Archaeology of NE Yorkshire, CBA Res Rep 87.
Waddington, C. (ed.) (2007) Mesolithic Studies in the North Sea Basin, a Case Study from Howick, North-East England.
Waddington, C. & Pedersen, K. (eds.) (2007) Mesolithic Studies in the North Sea Basin and Beyond.
Warren, G. (2005) Mesolithic Lives in Scotland.
Wilson, P.R. (ed.) (1988) NE Yorkshire Studies: Archaeological Papers by Raymond H. Hayes, Yorks Archaeol Soc Roman Antiq Sec.
Young, R. (ed.) (2000) Mesolithic Lifeways, Current Research in Britain and Ireland, Leicester Archaeol Mon 7.

2 thoughts on “Lowna and Gillamoor

  1. I looked over your Project Dove pages with interest. Could I please make a correction to the text?
    You use the term ‘Broom hill ‘ but that should read ‘Boon Hill” . Until the 1870s it was an outlying part of Kirkbymoorside. Boon Hill means ‘beyond the hill’. Perhaps you were put off by the ‘broom’ or gorse which grows wildely in the area.

    • Thanks for that, Barry. I’m going to stick with the name on OS maps, for better or worse :-) All I saw was ploughsoil (and lithics) in a gorgeous and ancient place. I wonder what our Mesolithic friends called it? Cheers.

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