Microburin.com is my blog, a space for idea sharing. It’s also a space where I want to present the projects I am working on, and get your feedback. It will be evident very quickly that I walk on and in peat bogs, dales, valleys and rivers, wet places, that I love the wild landscapes of north-east England.
I want to populate and engender a distant period in our past. When you layer people, their lives, their children and elders, their priorities, insecurities, challenges, stories and memories, successes and their humanity—people just like you and me—upon the artefacts we dig up, you can only then start to ask how and why they did what they did, why we do what we do today, and what on earth we will do next. We tend to repeat past mistakes, and we seldom learn from those that tried it already.
A Mesolithic pit house on the Isle of Man 3rd February 2016: In 2009, OA North discovered a Mesolithic pit house at Ronaldsway Airport.
Spencer Carter's insight:
From the lovely folks at Oxford Archaeology North (Fraser, Antony and the team at Lancaster), an update on completely luscious MESOLITHIC archaeology on the ISLE OF MAN (excavated 2009). OAN often had to work overnight in shifts - it's an airport! 7m diam structure with a hazel floor, c. 8200-7950 cal BC narrow-blade (late, but very early late) lithics, posited by some to be evidence for 'semi-sedentism' and immigrants/refugees/displaced from the drowning Doggerland (contentious). Comparable in some ways to Howick and Low Hauxley* (Northumberland), East Barns and Echline (Scotland), and a hint of similar on the Durham coast (date and microliths). ______________ * Full publication anticipated later in 2016 by ARS Ltd.
Remarkable new archaeological discoveries are likely to completely rewrite a key part of British prehistory.
Spencer Carter's insight:
Mesolithic einkorn? In the 7th millennium BC? I suspect there's going to be healthy debate at least around the reliability of the 14C radiocarbon dating (in a marine environment), but nonetheless this site is very exciting in many aspects.
At Scilly and Guernsey, they found typical Neolithic occupation features such as rubbish pits and post holes. South Uist yielded the remains of more substantial stone-built architecture, along with 5000 pieces of pottery. With three types of pottery from a period of around 1500 years, this is the second-biggest Neolithic assemblage in the outer Hebrides. It has now been excavated to modern standards and radiocarbon dated.
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.”
The Mesolithic settlement was unearthed beside the modern A-road near Catterick, North Yorkshire. Flint tools dating between 6000 and 8000 BC were also found.
Spencer Carter's insight:
While it might be a terrible headline, the upgrading of the A1 to motorway status between Leeming and Barton (North Yorkshire) 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 (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.
Over the last couple of years, GUARD Archaeology teams led by GUARD Archaeologists Warren Bailie and Kevin Mooney, have discovered a range of prehistoric archaeology spanning 7000 years of activity, during excavations undertaken in advance of the A75 Dunragit Bypass in Dumfries and Galloway in south-west Scotland.
I go back to the Mesolithic in earnest in this episode and talk to Caroline Wickham-Jones and Spencer Carter about a wonderful tale that is part prehistorical fiction, part family saga, part whodunnit, the Gathering Night by Margaret Elphinstone. We also talk about the relative impact of natural disasters in prehistory.
Links * The Gathering Night * Caroline Wickham-Jones' website * Spencer Carter's Website * Spencer Carter's Twitter: @microburin Contact
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.
A selective list of recent projects, excavations and discoveries. Includes websites where available and media coverage—look out for the “biggest, tallest, deepest, oldest” headlines.
Regional research frameworks, also included, provide a useful review of current knowledge across periods and heritage themes, archaeological assets, historical contexts, gaps in knowledge, research priority recommendations and extensive bibliographies.
This informative article by Jake Rowland (Digital Digging) offers insights into the design, construction and use of the mesolithic bow discovered at Holmegaard (Holmegårds Mose) in Denmark, dated to around 7000 BC. Two bows were discovered in 1944, one complete, and are now in the Nationalmuseet, Copenhagen.
Jake takes us through each of the steps, including the lithic (flint) technology brought to bear – and not without some damage to his adze which makes for interesting testing against our lithic artefactual records. He makes good observations about the effectiveness of flint versus chert (adze) and scrapers versus blades.
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