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Star Carr and the Mesolithic


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Star Carr and the Mesolithic

  1. 1. Life in Britain after the Ice Age
  2. 2.   11,000 years ago people began to occupy Vale of Pickburg in North Yorkshire.  They lived alongside prehistoric animals in an area of vast woodland.  They left traces of their settlement in this area.  This site is known as Star Carr. The Site Map of Star Carr
  3. 3.   Star Carr belongs to the important period of the Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, a time before farming when we were still hunter gatherers.  The items preserved at the site include bone and antler which would otherwise have rotted away.  Other items include skulls, timbers as well as carved barbs made from deer antler have all been preserved giving us an idea of what life was like back then.  Differing interpretation of Star Carr from base camp to ritual centre. Its Significance
  4. 4.   Peat consists of slowly decomposing plant material.  The process of peat formation consists of the decomposition of plant material in anaerobic conditions.  It is these conditions that preserve both artefacts and other natural materials like pollen.  It is significant in giving archaeologists the surrounding area. Peat An example of a cross-section of peat.
  5. 5.   The Mesolithic is an exciting period to look at as it has so much to discover.  However it lies between two other significant periods, the Palaeolithic and Neolithic so is often overlooked.  It began with dramatic climate change which changed the continent to what it is today and ended with the introduction of polished stone tools.  As a result it is likely people were very adaptive and this is displayed by their tools at the time.  Ethnographic evidence can also provide an insight into what life and people were like. The Mesolithic
  6. 6.   The time before the Mesolithic is defined by great changes in climate.  22,000 years ago when much of northern Europe was covered with Glaciers.  However, 12,700 BC the climate warmed rapidly and summer temperatures reached 20º in Britain.  Decline again at 10,900 BC with Younger Dryas.  Pre-boreal and boreal are most likely to see return of people before/at start of Mesolithic. Climate Change
  7. 7.   The rapid climate change of the pre- boreal period resulted in significant sea level rises which caused the covering of the peninsula which linked Britain to Europe, Doggerland.  It is clear Mesolithic people lived here because of what has been found trawled up from the North.  This area existed until 6,500-6,200 BC when a massive tsunami covered most of the area.  It was fully covered another thousand years later.  Some believe it was this event which caused humans to abandon Doggerland. Rising Sea Levels
  8. 8.  People in the Mesolithic had a rich environment to take advantage of and will have used tools and materials including:  Flint – butchery to carpentry.  Wood – canoes to housing.  Plant Material –ropes to nets.  Antler – barbs for hunting.  Bone – perhaps used in making of clothing. Technology and Tools Flint knapping
  9. 9.   It is very likely the hunter gatherer of the Mesolithic travelled in small groups following animals to kill for food.  Although there is an example of a house at Howick in Northumberland.  There are post holes and numerous hearths located above one another containing hazel nuts which have been dated to show the house was occupied over several generations.  Flints found far from where their rock type originate challenges this.  It also seems that Mesolithic people had different land uses as well. Settlements /Mobility
  10. 10.   It is difficult to tell what the diet of Mesolithic people consisted of but it is likely it ranged widely.  Large and small animals were likely hunted for their meat.  Birds may also have been hunted.  Wild plants, an indication to the beginning of farming, were also used.  It is even likely that Mesolithic people knew how preserve food for future consumption. Diet
  11. 11.   Death can often provide a great insight into what the attitude of prehistoric man was like to the afterlife.  Mesolithic peoples across Europe seemed to have varying methods of dealing with their dead.  Evidence for dismemberment has been found at Oronsay, Scotland where bones were found amongst shell middens.  Evidence for cremation and inhumation also exist at the sites of Hermitage, Ireland and Gough’s Cave in Cheddar Gorge respectively.  Evidence for mass burials or cemeteries have been found at both Aveline’s Hole and Greylake in Somerset. Death
  12. 12.   Not all archaeological evidence points to a practical use, some points to ritual.  Evidence for ritual and suggestions as to what may happened comes from:  Ethnographic evidence of modern societies  Shamanistic burials  Larger monuments denoting significance of a certain area of land, such pits found near Stonehenge. Beliefs and Rituals
  13. 13.  The tendency of Mesolithic archaeology of presuming everything was the same for the span of 5000 years then has been proven wrong. There have clearly been shown to be many changes throughout the period both in how people lived and died and why they did it this way. While it is clear that there is still much to learn, the site of Star Carr has highlighted all of these aspects of Mesolithic life, earning its place as one of the most important sites surviving in Britain. Conclusion