This is definitely not Mesolithic, but compelling nonetheless for anyone in North East England. The famous Lindisfarne Gospels are coming to the ancient city of Durham this summer. There are fantastic opportunities for community participation and volunteering for folks in North East England—to promote education and enjoyment of one of the World’s greatest books dating to the 7th century AD.
Volunteers are being sought to work with their local museum on Lindisfarne Gospels related activities to help celebrate the exhibition in Durham this summer.
From 1 July to 30 September this precious manuscript will go on show in a must-see exhibition in Durham University’s Palace Green Library. Please read this news release to find out how to get involved.
Love the rich, distinctive heritage of North East England
Holy Island | Durham University Archaeology fieldtrip 1985
The “vertical pier” now Redcar Beacon | Photo Peter Robinson CC2.0
There aren’t many of us who blog about the Mesolithic, even fewer in north-east England. Here’s the latest read by These Bones of Mine (click to read) that calls out the pain and challenges of reduced heritage funding in the north-east. Heritage—sites, monuments, natural beauty, great museums, community projects—draw visitors and tourists who spend cash in the region. Most of our museums are free. There’s perhaps no fair balance between austerity and the need for inward investment (i.e. tourism and foot-fall generation), but many of us feel the knee has jerked too far in the wrong direction.
Economic recovery needs growth; growth needs nurturing and investment rather than continuous attrition? Social cohesion, a sense of belonging, societal participation and pride, “skin in the game” also require imaginative cultural and educational investment. So, for example, there are no museum-based archaeologists in the Tees area any more and two borough councils have no archaeological service whatsoever—including the one where the Saxon jewels and Roman villa were recently discovered. Ironic? They decided to spend tax-payers’ money on a “vertical pier”. Controversial?
Perhaps there’s a sense of inevitability in a political climate where invasive development takes precedence over cultural asset management, social sciences and history are being side-lined in the curriculum, libraries are seen as liabilities, and heritage services are still being closed (Southampton is the latest)?
Crimdon Dene beck towards the sea | Creative Commons 2.0 License
School kids have come across human skeletal remains revealed by coastal erosion at Crimdon Dene near Hartlepool, north-east England. As a crouched burial, assuming it is a burial, could it be prehistoric? Bronze Age? Or even older? Evidence for Mesolithic burial in the UK, for example, is virtually non-existent outside Somerset and the odd finger in Scottish shell middens, unlike Denmark and Scandinavia.
There are some challenges too. How do you investigate such a find in a highly unstable environment like sand dunes? I’m sure there’s more news to follow from Tees Archaeology. Crimdon Dene¹ is also known for extensive Mesolithic flint scatters discovered in the 1940s. Filpoke Beacon², 1.25km north, produced one of the earliest Late Mesolithic radiocarbon dates for geometric narrow blade microliths: 8760 +/- 140 BP³ (Q-1474) based on carbonized hazelnut shells. A submerged forest sits off the coast south of Hartlepool and has revealed Late Mesolithic and Neolithic evidence including flints and a possible fish weir (see Tees Archaeology’s monograph).
Bronze Age burials, albeit in stone cists, were discovered in the vicinity of the Mesolithic house at Howick, Northumberland Coast. I know where my money’s going—but dreams at least are free!
¹ Young, R. 2007. ‘I must go down to the sea again…’ A Review of Early Research on the ‘Coastal’ Mesolithic of North-East England, in Waddington, C. & Pedersen, K (eds). Mesolithic Studies in the North Sea Basin and Beyond. Oxford: Oxbow. ² Jacobi, R. 1976. Britain Inside and Outside Mesolithic Europe. Proc Preh Soc 42: 67-84. ³ Before Present (1950), hazelnut shells are more reliable for aging than timber because they are shorter lived—”old wood” can itself be hundreds of years old before burning.
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