Late Mesolithic Hunter-Gatherer Transitions at Esklets, Westerdale, North York Moors 5000-3800 BC
Despite the precarious situation caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, I’m delighted, alongside colleagues, to have been awarded research funding by four esteemed organisations. We remain dependent on laboratories re-opening for the various analyses and radiocarbon AMS ageing activities involved.
About the project
The aim of this project is to reconstruct the cultural and environmental history at Esklets, on Westerdale Moor on the watershed plateau of the North York Moors in North Yorkshire, which is undergoing severe erosion of the blanket peat that covers the moors, exposing several ‘narrow-blade’ Late or Terminal Mesolithic activity areas (“sites”). These sites are under threat, and are being destroyed by erosion, by land management, by heavy use of adjacent footpaths and by unrecorded flint collecting by the public. The project is trying to research the sites through excavation and scientific analyses before they are destroyed. Several are already badly affected. Read more »
Activities include fine-resolution analysis of soil and peat sediments, with pollen analysis and sample extraction, at the University of Liverpool; radiocarbon aging of peat monoliths which include flint artefacts; use-wear analysis of flint artefacts at Southampton University. Grants, amounting to £2327 so far, have been awarded by:
- Architectural & Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland (AASDN)
- Association for Environmental Archaeologists (AEA)
- Quaternary Research Association (QRA)
- Yorkshire Archaeological & Historical Society (YAHS)
More news will follow as we begin to make progress through the autumn.
◊ Microburin is delighted to have a poster accepted for Elmet Archaeological Services popular archaeology day, Sat 28 May at Dearne Valley College, South Yorkshire – with a keynote address by Carenza Lewis!
Pioneers, Hangers-on and Newcomers:
New Evidence for Early Mesolithic, Late Mesolithic and Neolithic Transition in North-East Yorkshire
Spencer D Carter
Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology, Durham University
Keywords: Mesolithic, Neolithic transition, Lithics, Radiocarbon dates, Palaeo-environment
Our understanding of the late and post-glacial archaeology of north-east Yorkshire and the Tees–Swale river catchments has, surprisingly, changed little since reconnaissance work in the mid-to-late 20th century, often poorly recorded. Since Jeff Radley’s 1969 paper The Mesolithic Period in North-East Yorkshire, and subsequent syntheses, little new data – or reliable radiocarbon chronologies – have been added to the archaeological record. The palaeo-environmental context, however, is much better understood after decades of research.
This poster presents new lithics and feature-based evidence in ‘persistent places’, spanning the six thousand years of the Mesolithic. Thirteen new radiocarbon determinations suggest the possibility of a very late and ‘terminal’ Mesolithic presence, aligned to pre-elm decline landscape disturbance sequences, around the fifth to fourth millennium cal BC transition in the uplands – commensurate with Early Neolithic structural evidence on the coast.
◊ Dear Microburins
Friend and archaeologist Robert M Chapple has spent the last few years cataloging radiocarbon and dendrochronological dates for Ireland. The latest release has geo-referencing and visualisation for 8288 radiocarbon and 313 dendro dates, including the Mesolithic period. This is a brilliant and agile resource for researchers of any persuasion:
“At the most general level, I hope that it can act as a means of engaging a large portion of the non-specialist audience who have an interest in Irish archaeology and heritage. Such an audience may find the intricacies of both the modern excavation process and radiocarbon dating to be somewhat complex and off-putting. I hope that this visualisation can be used to connect these groups to the scientific excavations and dating results that have been carried out within their own areas and act as further spurs for interest and engagement.”
In his blog this week, Robert talks to the development rationale, process, software, data sources and user options. The data visualisation is hosted on Tableau public servers and can be viewed directly there, or through the embedded version at the end of his blog post.