Lock up your pets and grannies | Microburin’s on video

2014_SHBS_KirkvidAs if the world isn’t dangerous enough, @microburin is now on video – sounding alarmingly like Prince Harry – at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar & Cleveland. The video introduces the Street House Before the Saxons exhibition which runs until July 2015. There are a few of my Mesolithic flint images (and text) on the info-boards too. MicrolithsThe Street House Farm archaeology project has been running since the 1980s under the directorship of Steve Sherlock, archaeologist extraordinaire and the chap currently responsible for the archaeological oversight of the A1(M) works between Leeming and Barton, including Roman Catterick CATARACTONIUM fort and town.

Street House, near Loftus in East Cleveland, has archaeological remains from at least the Neolithic − an early timber mortuary structure – through numerous Bronze Age burial mounds (and a wossit), an extensive Iron Age farming community who were probably making and selling salt, Romano-British canny folk who were manufacturing Whitby Jet objects like beads, spindle whorls and probably pins, with suggestions of continuity into the early post-Roman ‘dark ages’. There are also hints in the lithics of possible Later/Terminal Mesolithic activity, which is right up my street.

Of course, despite many thousands of years of human activity, Street House is probably best known for the Anglo-Saxon Royal Princess buried in a 7th-century AD cemetery, in her bed, with breathtaking jewels of gold and garnet, on permanent display. Do try visit both exhibitions—and peruse the Street House Roman phallus carving from the 2013 excavations?


Just a little bit of fame | Desert Island mesolithic

In the pressDear Microburins,

I’m humbled to have had my ten archaeological book choices, for a cerebral desert island, published in a wonderful blog by Lorna Richardson (soon to be a PhD doctor Richardson care of University College London, viva on 4 July).

Image | Me in the middle front, aged 14, doing exactly the opposite of what the Middlesbrough Evening Gazette photographer asked. Usual. Everyone else “obeyed”: look at their eyes, look into their eyes…

This is a lovely initiative by Lorna, the Desert Island one, asking archaeologists to select the ten tomes that they would take to their sea-lapped, crustacean-riven island. Everyone is welcome to contribute through 2014. After that, who knows? Will you crash, burn and swim from a Fedex package somewhere over the Pacific Ocean? When I do, I promise I’ll be drinking a rather large and serious Baileys on ice.

PS, I recanted the “Spence” story to mam last week (she is not Tinternet-enabled) and she cried again. Mams, eh? Dad is long-since buried/scattered, but missed for sensible financial advice (after graduation).


Photography, Diplomacy and Grub | 1986 archaeology on a moor in Yorkshire

Dear Microburins.

Danby RiggI was flipping through some old (scanned) pictures from the prehistory of my archaeological past and thought you might enjoy these. It’s 1986 throw-back time, the second season investigating the Bronze Age upland landscape on Danby Rigg in the beautiful Esk valley on the North York Moors.

Aerial photography | On-site diplomacy | Sectioned lunch

The Bronze Age triple dykes subsequently radiocarbon dated to the Viking period, which was a surprise. The Durham University project included re-examination of a Bronze Age ring cairn with a large monolith, proving it to have at least one cremation burial.

Ring cairnThe landscape survey plotted the entire network of field systems and cairns hidden under the heather—certainly one of the most comprehensive surveys of its kind in north-east England, and executed before the advent of GPS or Total Station technology, but we did have an EDM. This was all dumpy level and back-sighting. I’m proud to be able to set up a theodolite in five seconds, while sleeping!

There is a tenuous Mesolithic connection in that, on the long walk up to the moor each morning, Microburin discovered a small Mesolithic assemblage at relatively low altitude. It included some blades and a scraper with edge gloss from processing plant materials, but no microliths. A large Mesolithic core was, inevitably, lying at the bottom of the deepest Viking ditch (residual). It’s a bit like the “token” sherd of Roman Samian Ware (posh dinner service crockery) found most other places, no matter what period you’re digging.

AF Harding Danby RiggHarding, A., Ostoja-Zagorski, J. 1994. Prehistoric and Early Medieval Activity on Danby Rigg, North Yorkshire, Archaeological Journal 151, 16-97.

The plans and sections are mostly mine, but some cheeky rascal got the credit.


Friday Fish | Late Mesolithic fish trap at Dublin quays site

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMicroburin’s Mesolithic Sites & Finds page has been updated with:

Dublin, Republic of Ireland | Late Mesolithic fish trap (6,500 years old) discovered at Victoria Quay.

“The wicker trap was discovered at the deepest point of the excavation near an attenuation tank and appears to be extremely well preserved. Up until now, only post-medieval material had been discovered on the site.”


Image | Mesolithic fish trap, Nationalmuseet Danmark (Microburin)

Decorated timber totem from Wales | Late Mesolithic-Early Neolithic | Windfarm find

MaerdyMicroburin’s UK Mesolithic Sites & Finds page has been updated with:

Maerdy Wind Farm, Rhondda Valley, Wales | 6,270 year old decorated timber “marker”, late Mesolithic or early Neolithic.

“The timber, which measures around 1.7m long, has an intricate pattern along one side and an oval motif at one end. It is believed to have been used as a tribal marker post indicating a tribal boundary, a hunting ground or a sacred site.”

The wood is now undergoing a conservation program of wax-glycol treatment at York Archaeological Trust labs where it is expected to stay until 2014.

Is it decorated timber, or natural (and insect) processes at work? Some skeptics are asking. Quote: “unless Maisie Taylor has blessed it….” | Keep watching!


Mesolithic Calendar in Scotland? | UK Sites and Finds update

Microburin’s UK Mesolithic Sites & Finds page has been updated with:

Scotland | 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. Lots of media coverage! What do you make of it?

Review the BBC News article and access an academic article in Internet Archaeology (IA paywall fee of £7.50 for the article, BBC free) →

And a good video by Vince Gaffney today (15-Jul, free) »