Divers from the Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (HWTMA), investigating a drowned Mesolithic site at the foot of Bouldnor Cliff, in the western Solent, have found evidence for log-boat construction dating from around 6000 BC. The site was discovered when flint cores, flakes and bladelets were spotted in the upcast from a lobster burrow at the foot of the cliff in 2003.
Because the site is being scoured by aggressive currents, English Heritage recently funded a project to assess the extent and the nature of any remains. This revealed active erosion, and the steady exposure of archaeological material from peat layers representing ancient forests, so evaluation trenches were dug during the summer of 2007, with funding from the Leverhulme Trust and the Royal Archaeological Institute.
As well as sampling lenses of peat to reconstruct the changing coastal environment from 6400 to 4300 BC, last summer’s work mapped the distribution of burnt flint, wood chippings, worked wood and flint tools on the surface of what was a sand bar on the edge of an estuary in the Mesolithic period.
The finds are, according to HWTMA Director Gary Momber, consistent with the construction of log boats and finds of posts and planks suggest a walkway constructed to provide access to the sandbar or to provide a platform for the boat building activity. ‘The importance of the site cannot be overstated’, he says. 'It is clear we have a terrain that is embedded with significant archaeological material from a period of our past we know little about’.