More ancient excitement at Elsrickle

8 March 2010

Snow covered Elsrickle field - the site for the coring sample

Snow covered site.

Some of us became mud larks last Saturday at Elsrickle when with colleagues from Stirling University we cored down into the valley floor beside the village.

The work is part of the study into the recently discovered site on Howburn Farm, where the earliest inhabitants of Scotland were camped on a seasonal basis and who lived as reindeer hunters 14,000 years ago

We are on the search for further evidence of this ancient time, and it is important to understand the environment in which our hunters and their prey lived in. The site is already established as being unique in Britain by the distinctive stone tools found there, and it is also the oldest known site for people in Scotland.

Section of core sample

Section of core sample.

Richard Tipping of Stirling University continues the story, “We will be able to demonstrate the range of plants which grew in the valley at this remote time by identifying pollen in the cores we have retrieved from a bog on Elsrickle Mains Farm. The bog would have been a loch between our two last ice ages, and after the last one. It may be possible to date the events by studying the layers of mud which silted up the loch; this is the first time such work has been done in southern Scotland and it has us all excited by the possibilities”.

The story of the Howburn hunters is only just beginning as the finds collection is now with specialists who will examine them in great detail. Later this year when we have the results of these two latest studies, the story will move forward, however, every answer poses another question and this story will run for years to come. Basically we have just turned the page on a new chapter of the history of Scotland; there will be many more pages to come.

One thing seems certain; Elsrickle is set to become a famous name in archaeological and botanical terms. The latest aspects of the project are to be funded by Historic Scotland who has recognised the incredible importance of the discovery.

Line up of volunteers with the core sample

Volunteers hold the sections of core sample.

Richard Tipping has written an initial report.