UK Sites and Finds

UK Mesolithic Projects, Sites and Finds

See Mesolithic stories on | Last updated 22-Nov-2016
Lough Beg, Co Derry | Mesolithic deposits discovered ahead of A6 road scheme


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.


This list is compiled from Internet searches, heritage e-news (largely on Twitter #mesolithic, Facebook and syndicated news-feeds such as Scoop-it, Past Horizons and Heritage Daily, 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), Antiquity and CBA’s British Archaeology, will have access to regular news updates too.

European Dimensions


Star Carr, North Yorkshire | Image comparison between 1950 and 2010 showing shrinkage of the peat. Source: StoneAgeBogs website.

Mesolithic archaeology surviving in wetlands (bogs) is an increasingly rare resource, as evidenced in the rapidly deteriorating and acidifying remains at Star Carr since the original excavations in the 1940-50s. The StoneAgeBogs group has been established

with the intention of bringing together specialists who work on bog sites across Europe to discuss cutting-edge scientific methodologies and to evaluate the threats to this valuable cultural resource with a view to future action and collaboration‘. The website includes useful illustrated summaries for the most important sites across northern Europe and western Russia.

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.


  • 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
  • Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex | Multi-period archaeology and environmental data along the Bexhill to Hastings ringroad construction (Oxford Archaeology)
    Eastbourne Natural History & Archaeology Society
  • 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
    2015: a report in Science proposes 14C dates for einkorn “flour” by association: “einkorn DNA  – from a substantial quantity of the cereal, most likely in flour form – was recovered by archaeologists from the Maritime Archaeology Trust from a layer of sediment which had lain buried several metres below the seabed. Associated material (mainly fragments of wood) was initially dated by radio carbon ‘Bayesian’ dating techniques to between  6010 BC and 5960 BC.” However, new DNA testing now suggests a modern date: “Modern DNA can easily contaminate precious samples so it is crucial to build in assurances that historic DNA is authentic.” | AIA Archaeology 03-Nov-2015 | Original story: Independent 26-Feb-2015 | DigVentures 23-May-2016 | Mesolithic boat, DigVentures 02-Jun-2016
  • Bradford Kaims, Northumberland
    Wetland area with Neolithic burnt mounds and late Mesolithic evidence emerging | Blogsite news and videos
  • 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 progress 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 | New five-year €2.5m project announced 01-Sep-2015 to explore Doggerland sub-surface archaeology (Independent 01-Sep-2015)
  • Fetcham, Surrey
    Mesolithic activity close to River Mole (river terrace) discovered during 2.2km pipeline works | BBC News 14-May-2014
  • Formby, Sefton, Lancashire | Intertidal peat beds with 58 human footprints and over 2,000 Red Deer prints in a 90m long bed, with trails of Aurochs, Crane and Wild Boar being recorded by Manchester University | Images on Facebook post | Daily Mirror 19-Jun-2016 | Dedicated website | also see ‘Sefton’ below (excavated campsite)
  • 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
  • Isles of Scilly | St Martins | The findings, just published in the journal Antiquity, show how small flint tools uncovered at Old Quay during a dig in 2013 are more similar in shape and manufacture to those found in Belgium, Northern France and the Netherlands, than in England | ScillyToday 27-Aug-2015
  • Isles of Scilly | Neolithic Stepping Stones Project (University of Reading, AHRC)
    Stepping stones to the Neolithic: Islands, maritime connectivity and the ‘western seaways’ of Britain, 5000-3500 BC’ looked to five island groups and the surrounding seas for answers. These were the Channel Islands, Isles of Scilly, Isle of Man, Outer Hebrides and Orkney. “Another exciting find came from the Isles of Scilly dig, which unearthed a stash of around 50 microliths, tiny flint tools from the Mesolithic (pre-Neolithic) era. Rather than being of British design, these are in Belgian and northern French style. “That was very unexpected,” says Garrow. “It tells us that people were sailing between northern France, Belgium and the Isles of Scilly around 6000 BC. It’s a very good sign of pre-Neolithic maritime contact.”
  • Langford, near Maldon, Essex | Mesolithic cremation recovered by Oxford Archaeology on medieval settlement. | Essex Chronicle 26-Jan-2016
  • Lincoln, Brayford Pool | Mesolithic lithics discovered during investigations at Brayford Pool on the University of Lincoln’s campus. | Lincolnshire Echo 26-Nov-2015
  • 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 as well as Beaker period burial cairn and later prehistoric settlement | 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, Lunt Meadows, Merseyside | BBC with video | Guardian
    Excavation with shelter and lithics | Media coverage Nov 2012
    Museum of Liverpool website coverage
  • 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 directed by Prof Nicky Milner | Website
    Engraved pendant find BBC Online 26-Feb-2016 | Internet Archaeology article
    Star Carr project on Facebook
  • 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
  • Upper Teesdale, Cow Green Reservoir, Co Durham | Late Mesolithic site excavated by the Altogether Archaeology project team (North Pennines AONB). Radiocarbon dates and site report to follow  | BAJR News 01-Sep-2015


  • Argyll, Lochaber, Loch Doilean | Late Mesolithic
    Assemblage of lithics was recovered from a raised terrace, dating to the Mesolithic period based on the exploitation of quartz and flint, supplemented by some bloodstone and other raw materials. The composition of the small tool assemblage suggests a broad range of activities to have taken place at the site, including functions such as hunting (microliths), drilling (meche de foret), scraping (scrapers) and cutting (truncated pieces/knives). | PastHorizons 15-Mar-2016
  • Biggar, South Lanarkshire
    Published fieldwork | Website
  • Cramond, Edinburgh
    Excavated Mesolithic site with structures, dated 8500-8300 cal BC | Video 04-Apr-2016 (Vimeo 5min)
  • 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
  • Lateglacialchippedstonetools,RubhaPortant-Seilich647510_40239East Islay Mesolithic Project | Storakaig and Rubha Port an t-Seilich Archaeological evaluation of new Mesolithic sites on Islay, western Scotland by Steven Mithen and Karen Wicks.
    University of Reading press release 09-Oct-15 about late glacial Ahrensburgian-style lithics and geo-archaeological evidence | Article in Journal of Quaternary Science (openaccess, PDF download Jun-2015)
  • 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
  • Isle of Skye, An Corran | Radiocarbon dates have now confirmed the excavated lithics at An Corran date to the Mesolithic period, towards the latter half of the 7th millennium BC. Two fragments of charred hazelnut shell both returned dates of around 6800-6600 cal BC. | The Scotsman 09-Feb-2016
  • Mar Lodge Estate, Cairngorm mountains, Aberdeenshire | 2015 excavations by Graham Warren (UCD) with earlier than expected 14C radiocarbon dates | BBC News item 09-Jul-2015
  • 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


  • Llangwm, Pembrokeshire | Dig involving Heritage Llangwm volunteers and the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has been taking place on a farm near Llangwm. They initially set out to learn more about the village’s 12th-Century Flemish founders, but instead unearthed Mesolithic flints | BBC Wales 19-Jun-2016
  • 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

Isle of Man

  • Ronaldsway Airport, Cass ny Hawin II | 2009 excavations by Oxford Archaeology North revealed a 7m diameter Mesolithic pit house with hazel floor, cached hazelnuts and narrow-blade tradition lithics but with a very early ‘Late’ Mesolithic date of c. 8200-7950 cal BC. The evidence is comparable to other very early ‘Late’ structures at Low Hauxley and Howick (Northumberland), East Barns and Echline (southern Scotland) and hints of something similar on the south Durham coast at Crimdon Dene (early 20th-century excavations). Peter Woodman excavated a similar structure near the present example in the 1980s.

Rep of Ireland and Northern Ireland

Ireland_RadiocarbonMap01Archaeologist 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.
In his blog 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.

  • Irish Archaeology | Web-based articles and papers including Mesolithic
  • Dublin | Late Mesolithic fish trap discovered at Victoria Quay | news item 19-Jul-2013
  • Hermitage, Co Limerick | Mesolithic cremation cemetery
    Irish Archaeology webpage (2013)
    Earliest polished axe (decomissioned? Mesolithic)
    “The cremation too, which requires a fire between 645 and 1,200 degrees would have also required some know-how and experience, Little tells Gartland. In fact, she says whoever prepared the grave took painstaking effort to pick up every tiny fragment of bone to put in the burial.” (Nov 2016)
  • 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
  • Lough Beg, Co Derry | Mesolithic deposits and artefacts uncovered ahead of controversial A6 road scheme | The Irish News 18-Nov-2016
  • Mount Sandel, Co Derry | University College Dublin to reconstruct Mesolithic house (off-site) | Blog | Irish Archaeology webpage (2013)
  • Tullaghoge Fort, Co Tyrone NI | Archaeologists have revealed that flint tool fragments have been found dating back before 5,000 BC to the Mesolithic period when hunter gatherer settlers inhabited Ireland. | News Letter, Irish Times 16-Feb-2015

Channel Islands

  • No recent projects or national media coverage found

Picture credits: hans s | Foter | Creative Commons 2.0

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