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Mesolithic site found in East Surrey

Sounds great until you hear it was only discovered because someone wants to turn the site into a quarry..

from The Times:

An excavation has turned up flint tools and cooking pots from about 10,000 years ago at a site on the North Downs in Surrey. The area, which bears the remains of cooked meals, campfires and flint tools, is believed to be one of the most important Mesolithic excavations in Britain.

Andrew Josephs, an archaeologist and the project's consultant, said: "The most extraordinary thing is that people gathered here for 4,000 years. It's over a period of time that is very hard to comprehend. We think of the Romans as a long time ago, at 2,000 years. Mesolithic man was coming here for 4,000 years, which is 200 generations of people. It suggests a tradition passed down from generation to generation."

Within hours of starting to dig yesterday, archaeologists had unearthed an adze, an implement used for shaping wood. The buried land surface is littered with evidence of communities that came to the area from around 8,000BC to 4,300BC.

So little is known about Mesolithic man's way of life that the artefacts will greatly improve archaeologists' understanding. The site is at North Park Farm, Bletchingley, a medieval village in East Surrey. It emerged when WBB Minerals, a mineral supply company, applied for planning permission to quarry in the area and an archaeological investigation was undertaken as part of the process.

WBB Minerals and English Heritage are funding a full excavation at a cost of £350,000. A series of public open days has been planned.

Jonathan Last, English Heritage's head of prehistory research policy, said: "This excavation provides an invaluable opportunity to enhance our understanding of Mesolithic chronology and settlement. What's really interesting about this site is the potential to have undisturbed remains of activities from this period.

"We find quite a lot of Mesolithic flints across England, but they usually turn up in plough soils on the surface. It is unusual to have undisturbed remains of occupation, where we can refit pieces of flint and find them in relation to hearths and cooking places."

The Mesolithic period, also called the Middle Stone Age, began about 8,000BC and lasted until about 4,000BC. Across England there were only 10,000 people, who led a mobile existence, hunter-gathering in woodland. They would have followed herds of animals or moved to riverside or coastal locations to catch fish.

Archaeologists are working side-by-side under the guidance of Surrey County Archaeological Unit and ArchaeoScape, at Royal Holloway College.,,2-1749059,00.html
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
25th August 2005ce

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