UK Sites and Finds

UK Mesolithic Projects, Sites and Finds

See Mesolithic stories on scoop.it | Last updated 14-Jun-2014
Updated | Little Holtby, A1 North Yorkshire (Early Mesolithic)

Overview

A selective list of recent Mesolithic projects, excavations and discoveries. Includes websites where available—not as many as you might hope for—and media coverage, often with “headline-catching” claims. Look out for “Atlantis“, “re-writing history” and battles over who is “the oldest”. Nevertheless, discoveries continue across developer-led, community and still some academic research projects and often prompt us to rethink some of our existing assumptions.

Links to national and regional British archaeological frameworks are also provided. These give extensive overviews of the archaeological background, historiography, assets and research agendas as well as useful bibliographies. Their benefit is to span most government and political boundaries. They contain both chronological surveys (and “transitions” between traditional epochs such as Mesolithic→Neolithic) as well as heritage, environmental and cross-period human activity themes.

If you have a suggestion to add, do send a message.

Sources

This list is compiled from Internet searches, heritage e-news (largely on Twitter #mesolithic, Facebook and syndicated news-feeds such as Past Horizons and Heritage Daily—see Stuff to Watch for links to the most popular, online media and local knowledge. Academic articles and monographs seldom include accessible Internet URLs or websites suitable for a general interest readership.

I also recommend subscribing to Mesolithic Miscellany website | Facebook. Subscribers to institutions such as the Prehistoric Society (PAST magazine) and Antiquity will have access to regular news updates too.

National and Regional Archaeological Research Frameworks

Atlantic Litorale

  • Coastal shell middens and agricultural origins in Atlantic Europe
    Nicky Milner, Geoff Bailey, Oliver Craig, Naomi Belshaw, Eva Laurie | Archaeology Data Service (ADS) archive, University of York
    Project 2002-5 | aimed to examine the role of marine resources and especially shellfish in the diet and economy of prehistoric hunters and gatherers living in Northwest Europe between about 8000 and 5000 years ago and the influence of these patterns on the spread and adoption of agriculture after about 5000 years ago

England

  • Amesbury, Wiltshire
    Excavations at Vespasian’s Camp nr Stonehenge uncover over 12,000 Mesolithic flints, an aurochs tooth (6250 Cal BC) and boar’s tusk. Museum display in prep (2013) | BBC News Online 19-Apr-2013 | More 2013 excavation season news will follow | 2013 pictures, SciTech summary Oct-2013 “frogs legs” | Culture24 article 07-May-2014
  • Asfordby, Leicestershire
    Excavation of Deepcar type lithic scatter | Website
  • Bletchingley, North Park Quarry Farm, Surrey
    Large scale excavation (2005-6) revealed in situ flints, pits, hearths and activity areas | Website
  • Bouldnor Cliff, Isle of Wight
    Submerged landscape and settlement in the Solent, partly published, ongoing project | Website | BBC News 2012 with video
  • Bradford Kaims, Northumberland
    Wetland area with Neolithic burnt mounds and late Mesolithic evidence emerging | Blogsite news
  • Bridgwater, Somerset
    Open-air cemetery, re-examination of historical finds (the only other British “cemetery” is Aveline’s Hole, Somerset) | BBC News 2011
  • Culverwell, Portland Bill, Dorset
    Discovered in 1966 and excavated by Susann Palmer, this is not a “new” discovery. However, excavations continue in the area and may reveal more Mesolithic activity (2013) | Excavations announcement 2013
  • Cuxton, Kent
    ‘Over 12,000 items have been recovered including tranchet adzes, axes, microliths and various scrapers together with several items which have classic Upper Palaeolithic features. Investigations overseen by the KCC Community archaeologist, Andrew Mayfield. A report of the site is in the progres of being produced.’ Source: David May | Kentnews 2012
  • Didcot, Oxfordshire
    Mesolithic flints and multi-period settlement in wake of building development (Oxford Archaeology) | Oxford Times 22-Jan-13 | BBC News 2013
  • Doggerland, North Sea
    Published palaeo-environmental project mapping the land inundated by the North Sea up to c. 6100 BC | Website | Storrega slide (tsunami) article Daily Mail 02-May-2014
  • Fetcham, Surrey
    Mesolithic activity close to River Mole (river terrace) discovered during 2.2km pipeline works | BBC News 14-May-2014
  • Hastings-Bexhill, East Sussex
    2012-14 work on the link road have revealed prehistoric activity from the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic onwards | BBC News 18-Jan-2014 (Oxford Archaeology)
  • Howick, Northumberland
    Completed and published excavation of Late Mesolithic house with radiocarbon sequence (cf East Barns and Echline, Scotland) | Website
  • Little Holtby, North Yorkshire | ‘Deepcar’ type Early Mesolithic lithics with evidence for a temporary structure and potentially periodic occupation close to the River Swale in palaeo-landscape of kettle holes and open water in the Vale of Mowbray between the North York Moors and eastern Pennine foothills. Upgrading of the A1 to motorway status between Leeming and Barton (North Yorkshire) has offered an opportunity to re-explore the Early Mesolithic site at Little Holtby. Previous evaluation work recovered flint tools of “Deepcar” type – thought to date a little later than “Star Car” obliquely truncated microliths and indicating a river-based mobility between east coast flint sources (wolds chalk, beach and tills), the lowlands (Vale of Mowbray) and foothills of the eastern Pennines. The River Swale seems to have been a significant transit route throughout the Mesolithic and Neolithic: Thornborough henges & cursus, Scorton cursus to the north. | Mail Online 12-Jun-2014
  • Low Hauxley, Druridge Bay, Northumberland | Evidence for later Mesolithic settlement and tsunami deposits from c. 6100BC Stregga slide event, as well as Beaker period burial cairn | BBC Look North 21-Aug-13
  • Morecambe Bay, Kents Bank Cavern, Lancashire | Epi-Palaeolithic fragment of human leg bone radiocarbon dated to just over 10,000 years old. This is the earliest known human bone from northern Britain, following the retreat of the polar conditions of the last Ice Age.
  • North East Yorkshire Mesolithic Project
    Final phase 3, 2013 | Landscape project with trial excavations, website includes downloadable booklet and lithic fact sheets | PastHorizons article Dec 2012 | Whitby Gazette, Yorkshire Post | Mar 2013 Goldsborough Dig article Whitby Gazette
  • Sefton, Merseyside | BBC with video | Guardian
    Excavation with shelter and lithics | Media coverage Nov 2012
  • Stainton West, Carlisle, Cumbria
    Carlisle Northern Development Route (CNDR)
    Developer-funded excavation by Oxford Archaeology North with >300K Late Mesolithic lithics (5,750 microliths), hearths, stake holes, beaver dam | Post-excavation project webpage
  • Severn Estuary | extending from human and animal footprints preserved in mud at Goldcliff East, Martin Bell (University of Reading) heads a project to recover artefactual and environmental evidence ahead of the construction of the Severn barrage. The barrage will artificially raise water levels and so the archaeology is at risk of silting and erosion | BBC coverage 6-Jan-2013
  • Star Carr, Vale of Pickering, North Yorkshire
    Ongoing wetland project with excavations directed by Prof Nicky Milner | Website
  • Swale-Ure Washlands Project, Vale of Mowbray, North Yorkshire
    Study of the fluvial, vegetational and landscape evolution and the impact of human activity around two North Yorkshire rivers during the later post-glacial (Holocene) period—13,000 years (Durham University Geography Department and consortium | Website and booklet (2004)
  • Thames Foreshore, Vauxhall, London
    Lithics and organic remains near MI6 HQ | Blog and video 2009

Scotland

  • Biggar, South Lanarkshire
    Published fieldwork | Website
  • Crathes Castle, Aberdeenshire Excavations by Birmingham University at Warren Field (crop marks) found a series of 12 pits which appear to mimic the phases of the moon and track lunar months | BBC BBC News 15-Jul-2013 | Internet Archaeology article (paywall) | Video by Vince Gaffney 15-Jul-2013
  • Dunragit bypass, Dumfries & Galloway (SW Scotland)
    Developer-led archaeology includes over 13,500 Mesolithic lithics and hut with finds spanning the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age and Romano-British periods. ‘The remains of a Mesolithic house was discovered in an area of criss-crossing palaeochannels, on the edge of a former estuary which existed here throughout prehistory. Radiocarbon dates recovered from the Mesolithic house revealed that this settlement dates to around 6000 BC‘. | The Scotsman 15-May-2014 | HeritageDaily article 16-May-2014 with images
  • East Barns, Dunbar, East Lothian
    Excavation of house with very early Late Mesolithic dates (cf Howick) | Website
  • Echline, Midlothian
    Another early house discovered on the site of new Forth crossing (with what looks like Early Mesolithic microliths?) | Developer-funded excavation | Media coverage Nov 2012 | BBC News | Telegraph | Mail
  • Inner Hebrides Archaeological Project
    Prof Steven Mithen’s ongoing work (University of Reading) | Web summary
  • Nairn, Highlands
    Mesolithic activity area at supermarket development site | BBC News 2011
  • North East Scotland Archaeological Research Society (NESARS)
    Fieldwalking projects are recovering early to late Mesolithic lithic assemblages | visit project summaries pages
  • Orkney
    OrkneyJar is an excellent archaeology blog and news site hinting at Mesolithic (or earlier) presence

Wales

  • Maerdy Wind Farm, Rhondda Valley | 6,270 year old decorated timber “marker”, late Mesolithic or early Neolithic
  • Mesolithic Wales overview | Nab Head, Pembrokeshire; Trwyn Du, Anglesey; Burry Holms, Gower; submerged forests; the Lydstep pig (legacy find); human; and animal footprints (e.g. Goldcliff East, published, filmed by Time Team)
  • Monmouth
    Developer-funded excavation, Late Mesolithic lithics | Media coverage 2010

REP Ireland AND NORTHERN IRELAND

  • Irish Archaeology | Web-based articles and papers including Mesolithic
  • Dublin | Late Mesolithic fish trap discovered at Victoria Quay | Journal.ie news item (19-Jul-2013)
  • Londonderry | Very early excavated Neolithic settlement that has been under analysis for a decade. Finds to go on show at the Tower Museum. | Belfast Telegraph Feb 2013
  • Mount Sandel | University College Dublin to reconstruct Mesolithic house (off-site) | Blog

Channel Islands

  • No recent projects or national media coverage found

Picture credits: hans s | Foter | Creative Commons 2.0

One thought on “UK Sites and Finds

  1. Now a long time ago, reporting of the so-called “Pilling Elk” with associated harpoon points gave a fascinating keyhole into Mesolithic hunting technology. To handle scapula of great Irish elk and see. the perfect fit of the barbed point in the damaged area of bone put an end to previous interpretation of antler barbed harpoon heads being used in pairs as fish spears. Use of light javelins against such large prey raised questions of spear throwing tools. Published by B.J.N. Edwards and others in the early 1970′s, perhaps this discovery is worth resurrecting? I certainly never looked on the shadowy Mesolithic with the same eyes as before. Keep up the good work, this period will have to be rewritten several more times. Also look at the rock art of Alta and elsewhere on the west Scandinavian littoral, apparently ignored by UK archaeologists.

    .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s