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Star Carr - Mesolithic Site Near Where I Live

Posted January 29th, 2016 at 03:11 AM by zarak001

Evidence of the spread of Maglemosian culture into the eastern parts of Britain was found by a local amateur archaeologist John Moores in 1947 on the edge of the former Lake Flixton situated in the Vale of Pickering near Scarborough in North Yorkshire. Radio carbon dating indicated that the site known as Star Carr was occupied on a seasonal basis between 8,770 and 8,460 BC which places the site in the Early Mesolithic period.

Between 1949 and 1951, Sir Grahame Clark carried out excavations of the site, finding barbed antler points that were used to hunt beaver, fish, deer or elk. However, also recovered in the initial excavation were 21 headdresses made out of red deer skulls and antlers. The top half of the skull was carefully removed with the antlers still in place before the lower foot of the antler shafts were removed. Finally two holes were carved using a flint tool on either side of the skull to allow some kind of fastening to be tied underneath the chin. Clark suggested that the headdress was used as a disguise in order for Mesolithic hunters to seek their prey without detection. However, archaeologists today suggest that they were actually used for ceremonial purposes by a shaman or priest in order to fuse with the spirit of the deer.

Further excavation was carried out by the Vale of Pickering Research Trust in the 1980s. On the shoreline of the remains of Lake Flixton, evidence of sophisticated carpentry began to emerge as new timbers were revealed. Sections of what appeared to be a well-built platform or trackway extended at least 30m along the shore of the former lake. This is evidence of the earliest known example of carpentry in Europe. It was made from planks that had been split from a larger piece of wood by hammering wedges following the natural grain. Some of the edges had been smoothed by using a flint adze before being laid upwards with the rough sides sunk into the mud.

Excavation carried out north east of the platform in 2008 identified evidence of a further structure with a diameter of 11 feet that was interpreted as a hut. Post holes indicated that the structure was made out 18 wooden posts with a diameter of 7.9 inches that possibly had either a conical or rounded frame covered with hides, thatch, turf or bark. The floor was covered with a layer of moss, reeds and other soft plant materials 7.9 to 12 inches deep.

When Clark published his initial analysis in 1954, he proclaimed that Star Carr was a small camp of mobile hunter-gatherers. However, the excavation team of 2008 see the site differently, that it was used on a seasonal basis with highly mobile groups moving out before bringing flint back from as far as 40 km away. Other groups may have occupied the site on a more permanent basis using their skills in carpentry, boat-building and antler-working.

Possibly as a result of the water level falling in Lake Flixton, the site was abandoned in approximately 8,400 BC.
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