Microburin is awf to Yorkshire | Smell of prehistory in the air

FOR IT IS DIGGING SEASON AND THE SEASONING IS GOOD!

Kiplin-Hall-560Dear Microburins,

Been busy writing up some lithics in the temporary luxury of the air-conditioned lab, outside temperature above 30, experiencing delight with the new desk-clamped anglepoise camera attachment device thingy and gossiping with my neighbouring office friends – who have nothing to do with heritage or archaeology let alone tiny lithic tools – about what I’m up to. I love how interested they are and the brilliant questions they ask. I’m even Tweeped-up with the lovely office manager, Lenka, who observed my early antics (and burglarized anxieties) as I tried to make sense of excavation outputs. Turns out that the corporate film company, next door, know the DIG Ventures crew through family. Archaeology does get about a bit.

Tool boxes x2, bags, undies (unserialised), caps hats and bonnets, insect repellents, mattocks, ranging poles, hampers, odd socks and coolboxes are now packed for the next adventure – the annual digging round, this time supervising and training volunteers on an exciting project in North Yorkshire. There’s more than 10,000 years of archaeology in prospect here, post-glacial up to the present day. The most enjoyable aspect, as always, as every one of the past few years, is the direct human repartee – the crowd of folks from amazing backgrounds – who make any fieldwork compelling and rewarding.

I hope you have a brilliant summer too – much appreciate you taking an interest.

Charting Chipeling – The Archaeology of Kiplin Hall

Kiplin_KidsFor the past six months we’ve been slowly uncovering the archaeology of the Kiplin Hall grounds through a variety of archive research, landscape and earthwork survey, historic building recording and test-pitting. Now the three-week excavation is upon us and you are very welcome to come to Kiplin and take part in the excavations. The dig will be running from Monday 28 July to Friday 15 August (except Sundays) and there are currently spaces available on all days.

george_calvertTargets to be excavated include a ditch-and-bank enclosure currently thought to be part of the wider medieval grange that pre-dated the Jacobean Hall, built by the founder of Baltimore USA, a probable post-medieval brick kiln and the line of the medieval and potentially earlier road that preceded the turnpike road to Northallerton. Anybody interested please contact jb@solsticeheritage.co.uk with your preferred dates and he’ll add you to the list.

More information on the project can also be found at www.chartingchipeling.co.uk

Spence

Day of Archaeology | Come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab

Dear Microburins,

I SEE YOU SHIVER WITH ANTICIPATION?

doa-noyear-200pxIt’s Friday the 11th of July and the international Day of Archaeology! This is the day when hundreds of archaeologists around the world share their secrets, their pleasures and their work in a blog post (web diary). You can follow it on the website or on the Twitter with hashtag #dayofarch. Why wouldn’t you?

Is that a rod microlith in your ziplock or are you just happy to see me?

My own contribution requires you to observe the Captain’s illuminated seat belt sign, place your tray tables in the upright position and strap yourself in for some Mesolithic turbulence (sic) ahead. I hope you also enjoy the lithicist’s toolkit, clamps, slabs, scales, calipers (digital don’t you know), a protractor and a neat little USB x200 microscope. I also won £1.50 on the illustrated Lotto ticket and I shan’t be sharing.

Mesolithic Spence

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.”

Spence

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

Spence

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.

Spence

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

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