ICE AND FIRE | Public Meeting with Anna Turley MP & Cleveland Police Commissioner | Fri-28-April

◊ Dear Microburins

The ongoing problems on Eston Hills and neighbouring farmland will be the subject of a Public Meeting hosted by Anna Turley MP at the Cleveland Inn, 37 Cleveland St, Normanby, Middlesbrough TS6 0LX at 5.30pm on Friday 28 April 2017. Cleveland Police Commissioner Barry Coppinger and ICE AND FIRE project director Adam Mead will also be in attendance.

The meeting is intended to discuss and explore, in an open community forum, both the issues and how cooperation between local government authorities, the emergency services, landowners, schools, residents and businesses might work together more effectively.

Acts of fire-setting, the burning of abandoned vehicles, illegal 4×4 and off-road vehicles, fly-tipping and other anti-social behaviour persist on an increasingly frequent basis, despite ongoing efforts by local services and voluntary organisations, including the Friends of Eston Hills, and media coverage.

The ICE AND FIRE project team and its stakeholders also believe that shifting public opinion – across generations from school children, their parents and people who benefit from tourism and economic footfall – is a local and regional priority. While the project aims to rescue archaeological and environmental assets where they are at risk, the longer term solutions must involve a coordinated effort to make anti-social behaviour entirely unacceptable in a community that values its rich historic, archaeological and natural environment.

More about the project and summer fieldwork »


Dearne Valley Archaeology Day 2016 | Pioneers, Hangers-on and Newcomers

Elmet◊ 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

TVA_ECW2Our 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.


Archaeological Science at Bradford Kaims | Want to look at my phytoliths?

◊ Dear Microburins,

BRP_BK_M1One of the Bamburgh Research Project’s focal points has been at Bradford Kaims located a few miles from Bamburgh, near the village of Lucker in Northumberland. A combination of excavation and palaeo-environmental investigations are ongoing in a wetland area, with excellent organic preservation, where early Neolithic burnt mounds are associated with a stone-based hearth, a timber platform and finds including lithics and a wooden ‘paddle’.

Image courtesy of Bamburgh Research Project.

Related to the ongoing project, the project blog includes some great reports on archaeological and palaeo-botanical scientific techniques being deployed — there are some excellent videos too. Two such updates, on what phytoliths are and what they can tell us, have been published in the last week:

Archaeological Science at Bradford Kaims | Phytoliths:

Both are informative and well worth a read.


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?


UK Mesolithic Sites and Finds | Recent updates

toadbootRecent updates to Microburin’s UK Mesolithic Sites and finds page and Microburin news aggregation webpage include:

  • Amesbury, Wiltshire | As the 2013 excavation season of this intriguing wetland site near Stonehenge continues, significant dietary evidence seems—according to press excitement—to include amphibians. But then the media hype this last week, suggesting the “English” ate frogs legs (or toads) before the French, needs some perspective, not least because we were still joined to continental Europe at the time! A partly charred leg bone in a fire hardly constitutes a “come dine with/on me” gastronomic venture? There are many reasons as to how such bones (or a single bone) could have arrived there—and unfortunately we have no human faeces (number twos) to examine. So for me this remains an intriguing but unprovable (if not terribly surprising) possibility—perhaps a leap of faith a little too far for now.

Now, anyone want crabapple chutney on their hedgehog burger? How’s your stoat kebab, Poika?

For an even more skeptical view, read Digital Digging’s blogpost (with a few well-considered profanities) »

  • Bletchingley, Surrey | 2005-06 excavation of extensive flint scatters, pits, hearths and activity areas.
  • Bradford Kaims, Northumberland | Ongoing excavations of an exciting wetland site with Neolithic burnt mounds, Late Mesolithic-into-Neolithic lithics and, this season, a wooden “paddle” that seems to date to the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition and may have been used for moving hot stones versus boating. Bradford Kaims is part of the crowd-funded Bamburgh Research Project.


Bradford Kaims Neolithic-Mesolithic wetland | Great new video from Bamburgh Research Project

Bradford Kaims is the latest venture of Bamburgh Research Project, working with the local community, volunteers and Universities to investigate a truly remarkable preserved ancient wetland site, located a few miles from Bamburgh, near the village of Lucker in Northumberland. The work has been supported by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and English Heritage.

BRP-BK-VideoThis latest short video, one of three, gives an idea of the great potential of the site but also the risks from water table fluctuations and drying—as always adding a sense of urgency to recovery before it’s too late.

“We were very fortunate to have Dr Richard Tipping, an expert in environmental sciences, out with a group of staff and volunteers. His knowledge is extensive and his enthusiasm was definitely infectious. There is something almost magical about preservation properties of peat and the ability of a real expert to read a core sample in the manner of an open book of environmental history.”

The extensive wetland that formed here in the Late Glacial period was a large lake system throughout the Holocene. Pollen and palaeo-environmental evidence recovered from deep auger cores spans the last 12,000 years. Many sites of archaeological interest are known in this area, from Mesolithic and Neolithic scatters, to Bronze Age cairns and votive deposits, Iron Age hillforts and Medieval villages.

Spence | Twitter @microburin