Research by University of York archaeologists at one of the UK’s most important Early Mesolithic sites is to be highlighted by the Channel 4 programme Time Team.
Presenter Tony Robinson and a film crew joined researchers led by Dr Nicky Milner, of the University’s Department of Archaeology, at an excavation at Flixton Island, an Early Mesolithic site near Star Carr, Scarborough. Star Carr is where, in 2010, archaeologists from York and the University of Manchester announced the discovery of Britain’s earliest surviving house dating back to 9,000 BC.
Now, thanks to a €1.5 million grant from the European Research Council, a large team of researchers are using new techniques to gain a better understanding of how hunter-gatherers who lived at the site adapted to climatic and environmental change between 10,000 and 8,000 BC.
A special Open Day at Flixton Island on 16 September will give the public, particularly families, the chance to see the archaeologists in action and see some of the artefacts they have discovered. In addition, the archaeologists will hold a Star Carr festival at Woodend, The Crescent, Scarborough on the 23 September, hosted by festival partner Scarborough Museums Trust. It will feature lectures by Dr Milner, performance storyteller Ben Haggarty and a wide range of activities for children.
Archaeological sites from the period are rare, and those with good organic preservation even rarer. Consequently, there have been few opportunities to link palaeoclimatic and palaeoenvironmental records with evidence for past human activity for the postglacial period.
Dr Milner said: “It has been very exciting to work with Time Team and use our research at Lake Flixton to show what life would have been like in the Mesolithic period. We are very lucky to have such exciting sites in Yorkshire which provide a wealth of important and rare information about our past. We are very keen to share this knowledge locally as well and the open day and the fun activity day in Scarborough will help to get more people involved.”
The Time Team crew has also filmed Department of Archaeology researchers analysing the finds from Star Carr and Flixton Island in laboratories in York.
Kate Edwards, of Time Team, said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed filming with Dr Milner and the archaeological team at Flixton Island. Star Carr is an internationally important site so it has been thrilling for us to see the work the team is doing there and to follow some of their exciting results. It has been very exciting to work with Time Team and use our research at Lake Flixton to show what life would have been like in the Mesolithic period
Dr Nicky Milner “We are very grateful to the Trust for allowing us to follow their work and keep our fingers crossed that they continue to have a productive season.”
Shirley Collier, Chief Executive of Scarborough Museums Trust, said: “Star Carr is an internationally important site, and we hold a variety of artefacts from it in the Scarborough Collections. We’re delighted to be involved in this festival.”
The discovery of Britain’s earliest surviving house came when the research team unearthed the 3.5 metres circular structure on what were the banks of the ancient lake at the site. They also excavated a well preserved 11,000 year-old tree trunk with its bark still intact and the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe.
Last year, Heritage Minister John Penrose designated Star Carr a scheduled monument for its rarity and archaeological importance.
Admission details for the Open Day and Star Carr festival in Scarborough can be found here.