Spencer Carter is a freelance commercial field archaeologist, prehistoric stone tool specialist, Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology and member of the Hatfield College Senior Common Room at Durham University, as well as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (FSA Scot). He is presently Archaeological Project Officer for Breedon Group’s Black Cat North (there’s a large metal black cat on the A1 roundabout, for whatever reasons) aggregates quarry, Bedfordshire, along with involvement in other community and commercial projects.

He studied archaeology at Durham in the 1980s and, after an extensive business career, currently researches the early prehistory of north-east Yorkshire and Teesside. He was recently chair of the Teesside Archaeological Society, sits on the committee of Council for British Archaeology Yorkshire and the council of RESCUE: The British Archaeological Trust, as an advocate for our archaeology, heritage-at-risk and the profession. He’s an affiliate member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA), passed the CSCS health and safety test, and knows the colour of various cables and fire extinguishers.

Spencer maintains a professional website at http://timevista.co.uk and an informal Mesolithic archaeology blog at http://microburin.com. His Twitter ID is @microburin.

ICE AND FIRE | Managing a 420 Kilometre Trench?

ICE AND FIRE is a Heritage Lottery funded community rescue archaeology project on Teesside, North-east England. The project is designed to explore and record prehistoric archaeology at risk in fire-damaged, eroding areas where artefacts have been found on the surface.

The Eston Hills, an outlier of the North York Moors sitting above the urban and industrial sprawl of Teesside, dominate today’s landscape of the Tees estuary and the rugged, beautiful coastline in this part of the country. The community moors, wetlands and woodlands are a fragile wildlife haven that also bear testament to millennia of human activity since the last Ice Age, over 12,000 years ago.

I’m Spencer Carter, @microburin on Twitter, a freelance commercial and community archaeologist with a particular interest in the Mesolithic period from around 9000 BC and the fascinating transition to the first farmers and monument builders of the Neolithic in the decades around 3900-3800 BC in our area. I have been part of the project team in designing the scope and priorities, as well as managing the project’s website and regular news bulletins.  I’m also a prehistoric stone tools specialist – mostly flint here – and I’ll be analysing the exciting finds in the coming few weeks. We also have features!

HILLS ON FIRE | HERITAGE AT RISK

Yet recent years have seen a rapid increase in vandalism, arson, illegal off-roaders and anti-social activities which are causing irreparable damage to both the natural and archaeological environment of the hills. By example, there have been over 16 devastating fires (and burned out vehicles) in April this year alone – that’s 60% of such events for the entirety of 2016. Moreover, the public’s comfort in exploring the environment – their landscape – is compromised and public safety is most definitely at risk, both in terms of violence, theft and uncontrolled arson. At least one hillwalker was recently trapped in thick smoke between multiple fires started by local youths, despite wide-spread media reporting and public briefings.

With help from the Heritage Lottery Fund North East and Teesside Archaeological Society, the ICE AND FIRE project has been established, with support from multiple organisations, to assess, sample and rescue the archaeology-at-risk, but also to pull together the many stakeholders across the community to focus on sustainable solutions – with political momentum. The project is making excellent progress, with summer fieldwork now underway, on rallying many voices, including the Friends of Eston Hills, around a single ‘landscape’ community cause. The aim is to try and turn around perceptions and behaviour, across generations and backgrounds, to make the destruction by a minority socially unacceptable. From an archaeological perspective this is a unique landscape, and a wetland that holds great potential, dating back at least to the early Mesolithic in the ninth millennium BC. Flint artefacts are being brought to the surface by off-road vehicles, erosion and fires. Indeed, if the wetland proves to date back to the end of the last Ice Age, the potential is both rare and very exciting.

What’s more, Media engagement has helped underpin a recent public meeting hosted by Redcar’s re-elected MP, Anna Turley, who has been horrified by the carnage – and the very real risk to human life. A great turnout, and passionate opinions, were addressed to a panel which included emergency services, council representatives and community organisations, followed by ongoing workgroup meetings hosted by Cleveland Police, to prioritise and execute on get-well plans. Activities have included popular school visits – and creative engagement with the children, guided site visits, and forthcoming involvement in archaeological fieldwork, post-excavation, dissemination and community-relevant story telling as a connection with the past.

420 KILOMETRES?

With the wonders of the mobile Internet and social media, it is as if the daily progress on site is like being joined to trenches and test pits! I’m based in London and while I’ll be visiting the hills next week, I’ve been monitoring progress, chatting with the archaeologists and volunteers, as if I am just behind the birch trees.

Read more about ICE AND FIRE, with many images, videos, links, free downloads and the very latest news »

 


BOOZE IN THE BARN | Digging up Time in the Dales

LOD16_Kids01DAY OF ARCHAEOLOGY 2016 | Hunters, Farmers, Cistercian Habits, Mullions, Methodists, Water and a Loo in the Woods

Spencer Carter is a freelance Field Archaeologist, Trainer and Lithics Specialist at TimeVista Archaeology in association with Solstice Heritage


My DoA post this year is, perhaps, closer to the traditional perceptions of what archaeologists do, and comes the week after completing fieldwork in the beautiful Nidderdale in North Yorkshire, England — an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and over 10,000 years of human presence. Our 2016 project is funded by the Heritage Lottery and seeks to understand the history (and prehistory) of The Lost Village of Lodge on the Scar House Reservoir which still, today, supplies drinking water to the city of Bradford — by gravitational pipe! To give a flavour of the varied activities over two weeks of digging, I hope readers will allow me to compress into a single ‘virtual’ day of archaeology.

How do you lose a village?

Lodge-May-2013-1040x300Lodge is a small ruined hamlet of four or five farmstead structures and a Methodist chapel. What’s important archaeologically is that it was abandoned in the late 1920s on completion of the neighbouring dams and reservoirs in upper Nidderdale — in order to assure clean water in the catchment area. That means nothing has been touched since abandonment, except for the gradual collapse of the latest structures, but that we also have extensive documentary records for the 19th and earliest 20th centuries. Indeed, one of our volunteer diggers had a direct family connection with the last residents! We can also trace some of the inhabitants back to the 17th century when the settlement comprised traditional Yorkshire longhouses with domestic accommodation at one end and a byre or barn at the other, a yard, ancillary buildings and a garden area. There’s also a root store, recently restored, next to a stream.

Watch a short introductory video to the project by Paul Harris (1m 27) »

Clearing the building and garden area beyond

Clearing the building and garden area beyond.

Farther back in time, the settlement is recorded on Saxton’s map of 1577 as ‘Lodge howses’, for which we found re-used architectural fragments like window mullions. We also know that the Cistercian abbey at Byland, like many others, had a grange (farm) here before the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VIII. Might we find evidence for monks? Lastly, we know that people have been here since the Mesolithic period, say around 8500–3800 BC, with extensive scatters of flint and chert artefacts recorded above Lodge and around the dale. Two flint artefacts recovered in previous surveys — and flint is not geologically native to this landscape and so must have been brought here by hunter-gatherers — probably relate to this period.

We chose one of the slightly easier structures, effectively a huge pile of rubble with a tantalising likely 17th-century window in the north wall remnant, and an area of the attached garden plot where artefacts lay immediately below the turf and through about 0.4m of wonderful garden soil.

LOD16_LB-04

Everything from the garden trench was sieved to recover the tiniest of finds like buttons, a faceted glass bead and shotgun cartridges.

Fragments of the iron oven lay scattered amongst the rubble although a large proportion of the cooking range was subsequently recorded in situ. We did manage to uncover one of the domestic rooms — the kitchen and entrance passageway — and a cobbled-and-flagged byre with a scythe sticking out of the section.

More about Lodge and earlier surveys »

Community involvement | BIG DIG 2016!

Trainee students recording a test pit.

Our excavation was Heritage Lottery funded and orchestrated by the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership, with Solstice Heritage providing the archaeological oversight. We benefitted from between six and 18 volunteers on any one day — including turf removal, tens of tonnes of rubble clearance and, ultimately, backfilling the garden trench. There were experienced people who had been involved in previous fieldwork, as well as folk with no experience at all, plus two trainee undergraduate and two postgraduate students in archaeology from Bradford University. All had to endure a 2.5km walk each way every day!

Mattocking in the garden trench.

Who wants to be an archaeologist?!

In addition to an extremely successful open day in balmy summer heat with more than 40 attendees, we also hosted a party of local home-educated children for some proper excavation (header image). After only a few minutes of demonstration they set to work, sharing trowelling and sieving. Their eye for detail was astounding! Almost immediately there were finds of beads, buttons, clay pipes, pottery, glass and iron. When asked “who wants to be an archaeologist?” the reply was a resounding “YES — when can we come back?”

Fragment of a clay pipe bowl with skull and cross bones motif, popular in the late 19th and early 20th century and associated with the 17th Lancers, a cavalry regiment of the British Army notable for their participation in the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War.

Strangers in the Dale

Andy Downing and Bill Spencer in the Crown at Middlesmoor

Andy Downey of Lofthouse and Bill Spencer of Ramsgill in the Crown at Middlesmoor. Bill holds the pocket watch – “digging up time” – from the first day in the garden trench.

As word of our ventures rapidly passed down the dale it also became evident that the broader community were fascinated by what we were doing and what we might find. It was therefore a pleasure to offer a finds show and tell at the Crown Hotel, Middlesmoor with over 25 local residents and tourists quizzing us about the intriguing array of artefacts spanning at least 7000 years of activity. The pocket watch, with its loop, was the centre of attention, not least for providing a tangible connection to somebody who we can likely name.

Did we find our Monks?

Most of our finds were late Victorian and early 20th-century in date: domestic and fineware pottery along with the ubiquitous earthenwares; window and vessel glass; ironwork including nails, bolts, horse/mule shoes — and one decorative example that was probably displayed above the cooking range; clay pipes and a great deal more.LOD16_LB-05

What’s interesting is that, mindful of our latterly conservative Methodist residents, there was a relative paucity of items related to bad habits, such as smoking (few clay pipes) and drinking — a very few beer-type bottle fragments and one sherd of what might be a fine sherry or wine glass. And yet, if one is permitted a moment of conjecture, we did seem to have a cluster of booze bottle fragments in the byre. Was somebody sneaking out on a bleak Sunday evening for an illicit tipple?

Medieval!

In fact, we have a reasonably complete sequence of pottery types heading back to the 17th and likely 16th centuries — and probably glassware too including hand-blown examples. Most exciting are two sherds, one a pitcher handle fragment, where the uneven firing, bubbled surface glazing and abrasion suggest an even earlier Medieval date.

Yes, we think we have our monks in a ziplock bag!

Thank you so much for reading. There’ll be plenty of volunteer opportunities ahead in Nidderdale for finds processing and, without doubt, further field projects ahead next year.

Postscript Loo

PS, it was archaeology director Jim Brightman who bravely transported the site ‘loo’ by 4×4 to Pateley Bridge for processing.


Spencer Carter | Field Archaeologist, Trainer and Lithics Specialist

Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership | Louise Brown
Solstice Heritage | Jim Brightman

Is there such a thing as | LGBTI archaeology?

In an amazing year for recognition of cross-gender rights by some progressive governments, and international denial of those rights in the majority by many nation states, my second Day of Archaeology post is a question about how inclusive we are, as an archaeological community. Simply that—across the spectrum of the people we are, as practitioners, and with whom we would like to engage, and the folks who might like to be involved in archaeology…just wanting to appreciate “their context”.

I like the Historic England Pride of Place initiative (it is very personal too, for a formative part of my life):

The project aims to show that LGBTI heritage is a fundamental and fascinating part of our national heritage. It will also improve knowledge of, and access to, this history through images, archive materials and stories that focus on the huge range of places and spaces lived, loved, worked and played in by LGBTQ people through the centuries.

So seldom does our discipline deal with the nuances of gender, generations, the lifeways of birthing-kids-mid generations-through-elders as an experience that leaves signatures in the archaeological record.

So, on this Day of Archaeology, I think about what are we looking for, before death or misadventure, transient fame or the ordinary grinding sands of time?

Day of Archaeology 2015 | Catching up with the past

Hi, I’m Spence, a freelance archaeologist in England who hovers between commercial fieldwork contracts, supporting community archaeology projects, analysing prehistoric lithics assemblages, and editing the odd journal (e.g. CBA Yorkshire). I’ve a penchant for the Mesolithic period and the intriguing transition to the Neolithic, especially in north-east England where, by the end of the summer, I’ll have thirteen new radiocarbon date determinations for ongoing research (and publication in due course) for the North York Moors; there’s only one recent one today. I’ll perhaps leave that for the 2016 DoA though I am giddy with excitement.

Festival!

Marden Henge open day

Marden Henge open day

Like some other posts, today is not the usual—although the nature of free-lancing makes for a diverse suite of activities—since the weather is dire and I’m between commercial projects at the moment. That said, July has been a great month to visit some UK Festival of Archaeology events such as the exciting excavations by University of Reading at Marden Henge in Wiltshire. The bigger henge, located between Avebury, Durrington Walls and Stonehenge, is actually about ten times the size (area) of Stonehenge and offers students the chance to hone their fieldwork skills on an annual training excavation. I also managed to drop into the last season of excavations at Roman Binchester in County Durham—utterly astounding Roman archaeology. What’s great about all these events, whether excavations, museums, re-enactments, is the wonderful public turnout. For an archaeologist it’s also like “coming home to the family”, always with indulgence by the project teams who go out of their way to explain what’s happening and why.

Back to today, forward to the past

Lithics! We found evidence for at least Late Mesolithic-Early Neolithic activity (informal photo) with evidence too for Early Mesolithic activity in the direct catchment

So, oppressed by the weather (not that it would stop most commercial fieldwork), and a little under the weather, I’m catching up on a small project that saw field-walking with volunteers earlier in the year. What that means, indoors, is analysing and recording the lithics (mostly flint tools and debitage, and the odd bit of natural of course), their attributes, metrics, and taking photographs as part of a permanent record of what was recovered—both as part of our mini-project and by previous collectors and field-workers who have been generous enough to contribute their finds for recording as part of a cohesive archive.

Light and dark

One of the challenges is that I can’t readily, at this stage, reveal the location of the work. The farmers, like many in the region and nationally, have been plagued by folks who have walked their land without permission, removing finds that will never be publicly shared and so never inform us all about past activity in our region. It’s a place until now, a mix of upland and lowland, that has remained a relative ‘blank sheet’ in terms of evidence for human activity from the end of the last glacial period (Holocene) through prehistory and up to the post-medieval period. The landowners, while absolutely passionate about their interest in the archaeology of their area, are therefore sensitive about public dissemination that might encourage the less savoury activities  of  ‘treasure-hunters’, a minority of folk, who operate in the dark zone and never share their discoveries, even to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS). Part of our project has been to work with the landowners to mitigate these sensitivities while both being able to feed back our findings to them as well as placing information in the Historic Environment Record (HER) in such a way as to inform future planning and conservation decisions and bona fide research.

Unashamed exploitation of pensioners: mam making flags

This is an area where there is a constant stream of developer applications that are increasingly invading the greenbelt, and so the accuracy of the HER is critical as part of the planning process. Needless to say, what we have found ourselves, together with previous as yet unrecorded fieldwork, does provide a narrative (remember the blank sheet) of human presence from at least the Late Mesolithic into the Neolithic and Bronze Age, pre-Roman Iron Age, Medieval period (12th-15th century pot) right up to the clay pipes, golf ball and a rather lurid red shower cap of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Our aim is to provide a framed finds-case with objects across ten thousand years of activity, a report for the landowners, an academic-quality report, a HER record submitted via OASIS, and an archive (paper, digital and finds) for the local archive-accepting museum (a rare thing these days). We’re mindful of how many finds—alluding to landowner sensitivities—are never recorded, and I know of very many in my research area. Our ‘blank sheet’ landscape is actually full of activity, and risk!

Methods and standards

Line-walking at 2m intervals, flagging all finds: “if in doubt, bag it”

What we did achieve, by way of best practice in fieldwork (here fieldwalking) is 100% coverage of two very large lowland fields, after ploughing and weathering. Line-based fieldwalking at 2m intervals saw the flagging-and-bagging of finds and then their recording with GPS and Total Station to 3D centimetre accuracy and plumbed into the OS National Grid. We can now see clusters of lithics, for example, that might—with permissions of course—merit some further activity such as test-pitting and, in a semi-wetland context, environmental sampling.

Fashionable surveying courtesy of our friends at Solstice Heritage

Unfortunately, the previous fieldwork was on the look-out for later prehistoric and Romano-British material and didn’t have the recording resolution of our current work. Hence, things like prehistoric lithics have only been recording by a general field-location or Grid Reference (albeit with “clusters” of finds noted). We’re now able to place those observations into a far more detailed record using GIS mapping. Moreover, and based on future potential, we can look confidently at new research questions and fieldwork activities that will add a richness to the ‘blank sheet’ where, in reality, every period is attested. How we do archive and communicate that, without encouraging the ‘dark side’, is an interesting journey. What we have done I hope, by way of example in the whole project planning and participation—from research aims through to archive and dissemination—is encourage the well-meaning fieldworkers in our area to buy-in to the benefits of systematic recording and, with our greenbelt at such risk, the importance of placing finds at least into the HER database.

Upland espionage

2014-10-20_Illicit_A

The spoils of flinters

While well-meaning fieldwork in agricultural areas can see the removal of all or some of the archaeological record without sufficent recording (often only recorded by field and resulting in massive private collections), we’ve a few shady characters who operate in the uplands (moorlands) too—the flinters. Sometimes, but rarely, and by involvement in systematically-conducted fieldwork projects, it is possible to convince these folks of the importance of good recording, expert oversight, or even leaving their finds where they are. Whatever is encountered is always going to be a sample of a sample of a sample. However, the unrecorded removal of artefacts—often cherry-picking the choice pieces in the case of lithics—prevents us even being able to characterise what might be going on, archaeologically. Leaving a small mound of debitage, having removed ‘nice bits’, and doing so without landowner permission, is still all too common.

One message?

If I have one message, as part of this year’s Day of Archaeology, it is to try convince everybody that, beyond the legal aspects of doing anything on somebody else’s land:

  • Our Heritage is ultimately shared, very fragile and loses meaning if it doesn’t have context
  • Understanding our local human past helps build a Shared Narrative
  • That our shared narrative supports a Sense of Place for a community, in space and in time, a value of Our Place
  • That value in Our Heritage makes Our Place attractive to live in, visit, invest in, develop and protect
  • Offers opportunities for Community participation, at any interest level, in projects and activities, and a sense of Wellbeing

Happy Day of Archaeology!

Mesolithic Spence

Website http://timevista.co.uk | Blog http://microburin.com

Come Up to the Lab and See What’s on the Slab

I SEE YOU SHIVER WITH ANTICIPATION?

MicrotalkHello all, I’m Spence and I’m an archaeological lithics specialist. You might know me on the Twitter as @microburin and for my sometimes irreverent blog where stones tell stories about our Mesolithic forebears. And yes, I have a lithics lab located in north-west London which I’m leasing until I have finished the detailed analysis and cataloguing of several lithic assemblages – largely comprised of flint – from the North York Moors in north-east England. The beauty of having a dedicated space is that you can lay out all the lithics from each ‘site’ or assemblage. This helps not just with becoming intimate with each assemblage, raw materials, artefacts, and debitage (we NEVER say ‘waste’ in the the world of lithics!) but also with attempts to refit pieces, almost the reverse of the reduction process, so that we can understand the flint knapper’s strategy, perhaps even their competence.

Chain gangs

The other key aspect of lithic analysis is that the debitage can tell us even more than the artefacts – for this period that means items such as microliths, scrapers, piercing tools, burins, denticulates, blades and the like. Together, the patterns of presence and absence of debitage and utilised items in any given place, and the raw materials that were sourced in often distant locations, form what we call a chaîne opératoire – literally an operational sequence – that helps us begin to understand what our Mesolithic friends were up to. I’ll come back to this a little later.

The excavation of features in the Mesolithic, especially in my study area, is rare. Firstly, there simply haven’t been any large scale excavations conducted to modern standards. Secondly, feature survival itself is relatively rare – organic survival is seldom encountered (and so it’s largely lithics that survive) and the very nature of Mesolithic activities and mobility through the landscape over millennia leave little evidence most of the time. The Mesolithic, for me, is all more interesting for being distant, often ephemeral in terms of what survives, mysterious and hovering around being just within and yet just beyond reach. It’s frustrating and rewarding at the same time.

Image_MesokidImage credit: hans s | Foter | CC-BY-ND

The Captain has turned on the seat belt sign – a little turbulence ahead

Whether the Mesolithic really existed at all outside artefact typologies and our own convenient constructs, sandwiched as it is between the climatic warming of the last glaciation (Late Devensian) and the onset of the Neolithic ‘package’, it was far from a time of continuity or stability. From the time of the return of pioneer communities, climatic volatility like the so-called 8ka event which saw a period of cooling, rapid sea-level rise with positive and negative undulations, eventually saw the separation of Britain from the continent. Vast ancestral tracts that were rich in resources disappeared. We also have evidence for at least one major tsunami event – the Storegga slide – that certainly had a catastrophic  impact on coastal communities and completed the inundation of Doggerland. There’s an increasing body of evidence too for repeated fire-events in the Mesolithic forests and around lake edges that are posited as indications, at least in part, of human management of the landscape and its resources.

“Far from being an endless period of hazelnut crushing, berry picking, game stalking and salmon fishing, the Mesolithic was a time of turbulence – climatic, environmental, social and technological – where many of the themes surely resonate with our own challenging world experiences today.”

Lithic life

Image_AdderMost days, like The Day of Archaeology today, are spent in the lab surrounded by my babies. I’m focused primarily on the analysis of an assemblage I excavated some years ago on the North York Moors uplands – now largely humanly-transformed heather-clad grouse moors on acidic peat. After falling into a griff (water channel), being bitten by an adder (thick boots), I came across a small, sandy eroded area with – you guessed it – flints on the surface. The rescue excavation, with kind permissions from the landowners and National Park archaeologists, lasted about ten days (and it only rained once) in a remote area. Every flint was plotted over 20 sq metres to reveal discreet knapping events, firespots, a stone-lined hearth containing burnt microliths and indications of a possible structure. Flat-stone features seem to be associated with knapping, microlith manufacture and tool concentrations including scrapers.

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Terminal nail-biting

The results so far from the lithic analysis and processing of charcoal samples from the firespots and hearth are particularly exciting. Remember, there have been few excavations of any size in the last seventy or more years in this area, fewer still with results that allow spatial analysis. These are also the first feature-associated radiocarbon dates for the Late Mesolithic for north-east Yorkshire with a final suite in-process at SUERC right now. This is a nail-biting time! What we appear to be looking at is a multi-period site, a palimpsest, a persistent place that our Mesolithic friends returned to repeatedly over at least 2,000 years and where we might be looking at the very time of transition between the “terminal” Mesolithic and Neolithic. What this also proves is that knapping events within just a few metres of each other can span at least a couple of thousand years. This means that many of the large-area surface assemblages gathered by collectors over the past seventy years (but seldom if ever spatially recorded) probably represent many individual events over a considerable time period, each plausibly for different purposes or motives.

Esklets_pairing

Joined at the hips

Once complete, I’ll be moving onto several other surface assemblages from the vicinity – with the sense of caution given the findings at the excavated site, although spatial plotting has been undertaken where possible. Here is where laying out all the lithics from neighbouring assemblages has proved a boon and a surprise. A rejoining utilised (micro-wear) flint blade had each half in two different assemblages, recorded ten years apart, and almost 200m from each other. ‘Paired sites’ are rare but do occur, for example in the Central Pennines. Might one be looking at coeval activities in the vicinity of what was once a small lake (which has been pollen-cored), long-since dried up? Read more about the project and view the poster on the Lithoscapes website »

Tools of the trade

spencer_banner.inddIn the header image, perhaps a little contrived, I’ve tried to illustrate the lithicist’s toolkit. You’ll already have noticed that the lab is less bestrewn with slabs than belittered with handy polystyrene insulation blocks procured from my local DIY store. They’re great for flagging lithics with cocktail sticks. The camera desk clamp, or tripod collapse avoidance device, is a recent addition after months of searching. On a good day I can process perhaps 30 to 50 lithics at a detailed level of attribute and metrical recording. That leaves more detailed analysis of particular artefact groups for a further round, in addition to photography and, ultimately, selective drawing.

And yes, that is a Lotto ticket on the scales! You know how archaeology is these days.

Is that a rod microlith or are you just happy to see me?

One of the significant hurdles for lithicists is recording assemblages systematically according to a replicable set of standards – ones without ambiguity for future researchers and with absolute clarity in describing morphology, typology, right down to the raw material type. This subject could see me ramble on for far longer than your patience will endure, suffice to say here that I am using and testing a typological protocol developed by my friend and colleague at Lithoscapes, Paul Preston. His doctoral research, soon to be published, extensively reviewed our legacy of lithics classifications and taxonomies to form a new standard. I’m delighted – and undeniably relieved – that he’s shared this with me and allowed me to apply it to the assemblages presently in my guardianship. Learn more about Lithoscapes Archaeological Research Foundation »

It’s knocking on a bit now on the Day of Archaeology, perhaps time for a cheeky chardonnay. Thanks so much for reading and taking an interest in the Mesolithic and stones with stories in resonating places. My thanks to the team of organisers, muddy or otherwise, behind this special international event. The many hundreds of posts each year provide the most fascinating insights into the inner workings of archaeologists and specialists – a through-the-keyhole peek at the world around us. May I also take this opportunity to congratulate Lorna Richardson, one of DoA’s lynchpins, on her recent rites-of-passage achievement. Well done Dr Richardson!

Best wishes,

Mesolithic Spence

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Microburin has left the building!