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.


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.”


2 thoughts on “Extraordinary news | Flixton mesolithic landscape for sale

  1. Spencer,

    2 notifications of Flixton sale in one day!

    Is anybody trying to raise the wind, at least for lots 3 & 4 from the archaeological point of view ?  York would seem the obvious scintific promoter and probably the VPT, if they are a charity, the vehicle as, if a whip round was promoted, they could maximise the result via gift aid. I certainly would contribute, albeit only modestly.

    Sorry not to have been in touch since you were here but I havent been!! Have followed microburin with interest and some irritation. I pushed the button to print off a few paragraphs on glue, went away to do something else, got distracted and came back to find all 150+ sheets of the Stainton West Assessment in the tray !!! Its amazing there was enough paper loaded.

    Have a few bits from the Dorset Downs behind Weymouth I would like you to vet. I am not competent to decide between deliberate human work and the accidental effects of years of arable agriculture.

    Yours, Tom

    • Hello Tom! Sorry about the printing debacle but Stainton West is all lovely stuff! I so wish there was a hub for the Flixton possibilities. Strikes me it needs a strong “evangelist” to talk to the big bodies, the obvious ones like NT, RSPB, (even EH) and there must be some on the natural/environmental side? £400k (2 lots) is not terrifying. Any hedgefund managers with a guilty conscience (like the chap that saved the paintings at Auckland Castle)? Yet you’d need somebody to manage the land itself (and all the related admin). I’ll have a quick pop at Jim Inness (on the VPT) to see if there’s been any discussion. Maybe Tim Schadla Hall too (tho 25 yrs since he marked my dissertation).

      I’m up on the Kiplin Hall dig from last week July for 3 weeks. You’d be welcome to drop by. I’ll drop you a line closer to the time – should have a day or two off.

      Best wishes, Spencer

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