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Star Carr

Mesolithic site

<b>Star Carr</b>Posted by RhiannonImage © Rhiannon
Also known as:
  • Starr Carr
  • Monument No. 80206

Nearest Town:Scarborough (7km N)
OS Ref (GB):   TA028810 / Sheet: 101
Latitude:54° 12' 51.09" N
Longitude:   0° 25' 24.25" W

Added by Chris Collyer

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Star Carr: North Yorkshire's archaeological 'Tardis' 10 years on

The archaeologist who helped lead the dig that found Britain's oldest house said the site was still giving up its secrets 10 years on.

Star Carr hit the headlines in 2010 when a circular Stone Age structure found was dated to about 8,500 BC.

Archaeologist Nicky Milner said working on the site was akin to time-travel... continues...
moss Posted by moss
16th August 2020ce

Making a 'Star Carr' Mesolithic type shale pendant - Event in Stockport

"In this second session we will be looking at the Mesolithic period and making a 'Star Carr' type shale pendant. The Mesolithic is the period when people repopulated Britain after the last major Ice Age event. "
amd Posted by amd
28th January 2020ce
Edited 28th January 2020ce

Stone Age Britons may have had prehistoric secret code

Stone Age Britons may have developed a prehistoric secret code.

Mysterious markings engraved on an 11,000 year old pendant found in Yorkshire suggest that the area’s ancient Mesolithic inhabitants used a system of long and short lines to represent events or objects in numerical form... continues...
moss Posted by moss
26th February 2016ce
Edited 26th February 2016ce

Star Carr archaeologists given more than £1m in funding

Archaeologists excavating what they claim is Britain's oldest house have secured more than £1m in funding.

The circular structure at Star Carr near Scarborough was found in 2008 and dates from 8,500BC.

Archaeologists from the Universities of Manchester and York say the site is deteriorating due to environmental changes... continues...
moss Posted by moss
27th January 2012ce

Oldest House in Britain found in N.Yorks

There is at least a dozen press reports on this, from the Guardian to the Daily Mail which got the reconstruction wrong but provides most of the photos, the following from the Yorkshire Post...

"Archaeologists said today they have discovered Britain's earliest house, in the North Yorkshire countryside... continues...
moss Posted by moss
11th August 2010ce

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Details of site on Pastscape

The buried remains of an Early Mesolithic settlement site on the edge of a former lake at Star Carr. The site was identified by John Moore in 1947 and partially excavated in 1949-51. Further archaeological excavations in the 1980s and the 2000s have demonstrated in situ evidence of built structures. During the Mesolithic period the monument site was a peninsula of dry land that extended southwards into Lake Flixton, a former lake of nearly 5km by 2km. This peninsula can now be seen as a rise in the ground surface. Radiocarbon dating and archaeological evidence indicates that the site was occupied on a seasonal basis intermittently over about a couple of centuries around 9,000BC.

Excavations in the 1980s found parts of a timber platform with evidence of carpentry using stone tools, representing the earliest known example of carpentry in Europe. In 2008 a further structure 5-6 metres in diameter was identified, which was defined by scatters of flintwork and a hollow surrounded by post settings. It has been interpreted as a hut and is sited on higher ground than the platform on the western side of the peninsula. Discovered during the 1949-51 excavations was a brushwood floor thought to overlay what would have been reedbeds. Artefacts found at the site include organic material not found at any other Mesolithic site in Britain, antler frontlets, barbed points made from antler, flints, microliths and plant remains. Peat drainage is having an adverse affect on the unexcavated organic remains which rely heavily on waterlogged soils for their preservation.
Chance Posted by Chance
9th May 2016ce

Due to current renewed interest in Star Carr I've added the following text I wrote elsewhere.

Star Carr must be one of the most unassuming yet archaeologically important sites it is possible to visit in the British Isles. An empty field hides below its surface the waterlogged remains of what was once a Mesolithic settlement standing on the eastern shores of the now vanished Lake Pickering, a glacial lake formed by meltwaters at the end of the last ice age that stretched as far west as the Hambleton and Howardian Hills towards the north of York. At this time lower sea levels meant Britain was not yet an island being still connected to the continent and as the ice retreated hunters followed herds of migrating animals across land which is now under the North Sea and began to move into new territories. One of these that seems to have been particularly to their liking was beside Lake Pickering where they burned back the sedges and rushes on the marshy edges of its shore and laid down mats of brushwood and a trackway of split timbers to make a platform out into the clearer water - evidence of a wooden oar suggests they also used boats to move out onto the lake to fish.

It is thought that the edge of the lake was not used as a habitation area but that camps would have been set up a short distance to the north on slightly raised ground. These would probably have been temporary seasonal camps and archaeologists seem to be divided on when the site would have been in use, analysis of plant remains suggests the main activity taking place here was during the summer months while finds of worked and natural deer antler suggest people were hunting here during winter.

Although animals such as auroch, elk and boar were taken as food sources it seems that red deer held a special place in the Mesolithic world view of these people. Not only were they hunted in large numbers but they are also responsible for the most famous finds at Star Carr - the antler headdresses. These consisted of the frontal forehead bone of red deer stags with the longer parts of the antler trimmed off and holes drilled through the bone to form either eye-holes or to tie the headdress to the wearer. What these were used for has fired the imagination of many writers (this one included) - were they worn as disguises to allow the hunters to get close to their prey or were they worn during ceremonies where perhaps a tribal leader would enter a trance state to try to commune with the spirit of the animal? Whatever their purpose it seems to have been an important one as twenty one of these headdresses where found here and it appears that they were placed into the wet areas of the site perhaps as an offerings after use. A more pragmatic reason could be they they were submerged to soften the bone prior to it being further worked and what we could be looking at is Star Carr as a production centre with the headdresses being traded further afield.

This theory could be supported by the finds of nearly two hundred barbed antler points which would have been tied to the end of poles to make spears or harpoons for catching fish. Other finds from the site include many flint artifacts such such as scrapers, burins and microliths, pieces of worked and unworked antler and bone as well as wood working tools. Several perforated stone beads, perhaps used as jewelry, hint at the more personal lives of the occupants of the site.

At some point the site was abandoned, perhaps the settlers moved elsewhere as the level of the lake fell although luckily the ground remained waterlogged and a layer of peat slowly formed helping to preserve so much of the organic remains that make Star Carr such a unique and archaeologically rich resource. It slipped from memory until it was rediscovered in 1947 by local archaeologist John Moore and was then excavated between 1949-1951 by Sir Grahame Clark whose discoveries, particularly of the headdresses, sparked so much interest in this quiet corner of Yorkshire. Further excavation work during the 1980's and within the last ten years have helped to shine more light on the activities that were taking place on this shore line and carbon dating of organic remains have given us a date range of activity at Star Carr of between 8770BC-8460BC suggesting that the site remained important for many generations of Mesolithic families.

Despite all that has been learned from the study of the area much remains unexcavated and the true extent of the site has yet to be discovered however recent research indicate that drainage is now threatening the very existence of Star Carr. Falling water levels mean that the water-logged peats that have protected the bone and wooden artifacts that make the site so important are now drying up leading to the decay and destruction of these irreplaceable items with some experts predicting that much will be lost within 5-10 years. To lose all that can be learned from this unique 10000 year old site would be a real archaeological shame.
Chris Collyer Posted by Chris Collyer
11th August 2010ce
Edited 12th August 2010ce

This mesolithic lakeside settlement, dated to around 7500BC was investigated by Professor Grahame Clark (Excavations at Starr Carr: An Early Mesolithic Site at Seamer near Scarborough, Yorkshire -Cambridge University Press 1954), while Jacquetta Hawkes calls it 'the most informative Middle Stone Age site in Britain'
Starr Carr has since been reburied.

Edit: New evidence suggests the site dates from 8700BC and was seasonally occupied over a course of 200-300 years
Chris Collyer Posted by Chris Collyer
26th May 2002ce
Edited 2nd June 2010ce


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White Rose University Press

Marvellously, you can read online or download for free, two brand new books about the site that analyse Chantel Conneller, Nicky Milner and Barry Taylor's excavations between 2003-15.

Volume one is called 'A persistent place in a changing world' and the second is 'Studies in technology, subsistence and environment'.

The site was occupied / used for about 800 years. The first people there deposited worked wood, articulated animal bone and flint tools into the lake. The next period was the main phase of occupation, in which large timber platforms were made at the lake's edge, and items were still being deposited into it. And in the last phase both the dry land and the wetland margins were still being used, "often for craft activities," and making axes and tools - and the oldest known British Mesolithic art - a shale bead - was found there. I love a shale bead, me. They're in chapter 33 of the second volume. The famous antler frontlets are in chapter 26.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th June 2018ce
Edited 7th June 2018ce

Skulls, shamans and Sacrifice in Stone Age Britain

The Mesolithic settlement of Star Carr in North Yorkshire has fascinated archaeologists for decades. Nicky Milner and her digging team from York University are embarking on their final ever excavation on site to unlock the secrets of this mysterious landscape.
moss Posted by moss
21st July 2015ce

Star Carr Archaeology Project

Information plus videos of work at the site.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th June 2013ce

ADS - Star Carr Achives Project

A particularly superb thing about this archive is the 'Query' section, via which you can bring up photographs of many wonderful things.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th June 2013ce