Daer Update – six minutes of fame!

19 August 2011

Excavating the furrows to test the site

Excavating the furrows to test the site

On the 6th August the BBC TV programme Digging for Britain series spent a day with us at Daer. Their theme is the Stone Age and of course we were able to offer them a magnificent opportunity to film a Mesolithic site being excavated.

Not only that but we were also able to guarantee that lots of finds would be forthcoming on the day, in fact so much lithic was being recovered it would have appeared the whole thing was being stage managed! The Mesolithic sites at Daer are prolific in both debitage and also tools, and in the case of Site 114, we were finding lots of microliths and also long flint blades with edge wear showing they had been used as blades or knives.

Unusually, the flint ratio to the local chert was very high on this site and a variety of flint types had been brought to the location by the hunters. Of particular interest here is the fact that the site is exclusively Mesolithic in character, and we found numerous pieces of haematite (previously reported), so for certain at this place, the colouring substance is definitely Mesolithic, and although not 100% certain, it is likely that the Haematite found on the ‘transitional’ sites may also be of Mesolithic date.

Stripping out the baulk between furrows

Stripping out the baulk between furrows

We were lucky to find two small pit features full of charcoal and burnt stone, all of the grit from the residue of the samples taken was completely discoloured by burning, so we are sure that the pits were the product of fires rather than simply having charcoal deposited from some unknown source. The pits lay immediately at the front of a very narrow terrace which immediately dropped down; the trench was about 60 square metres and lay on sloping ground.

The charcoal will allow for radio carbon dating and also species identification, an amazing fact is that we have recovered charcoal from every single excavation location on the project so far, this promises to add substantial data on both the environments through time and the sequence of occupation on the various sites.

Site 114 also produced ‘hot spots’ of lithic concentrations like several other sites on the project, recording lithic to one square metre grids may help specialists to determine actual knapping zones on the sites.

The site prepared for filming

The site prepared for filming

While we were filming on this location yet another Mesolithic site was found only a few metres away; Site 115 may of course be part of the same activity, and this remains to be seen, however, it serves to re-enforce the fact that countless Mesolithic sites must exist in this small area, only a major campaign of test pitting could determine that, as the vast majority of the furrows have not been ploughed below the peat cover. We do not have the people resource to do that and it will be a sad fact that despite trying, and failing to encourage people to come along and help, the true scale of this amazing archaeological landscape will not be realised.

We are now abandoning the area where most Mesolithic sites have been found and our next excavation will be downhill from Site 110 where we found an enigmatic building with an adjoining stone setting, the new site appears similar with a possible ring of stones. Site 110 is suspected as possibly having a mortuary function and it may be that the lower site is the cemetery – watch this space

Filming the team. Note the new Clyde Windfarm in the background.

Filming the team. Note the new Clyde Windfarm in the background.