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.
◊ Dear Microburins, A new video on Vimeo released this month about the project in Scotland. Thanks to Caroline Wickham-Jones for sharing. "Get behind the scenes with archaeologists and scientists as they explore 10,000 years of human history on the Mar Lodge Estate – uncover the links between tiny flint tools, climate change and pit-roast…
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.
HAZLENUT shells discovered during an archaeological dig in the Isle of Skye have been proven to be from the hunter gatherer period more than 8,000 years ago.
Spencer Carter's insight:
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.
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.”
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