A red deer skull that may have been worn as a headdress. Image courtesy Scarborough Museums
11,000-year-old artefacts from Star Carr, Britain’s largest-known Mesolithic settlement, will go on display for the first time tomorrow (24 May), with the opening of a new exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum.
With highlights including deer skull head-dresses, bone harpoons, and amber and shale jewellery, preserved by the peaty environment of the lakeside camp where they were found, the objects will be shown alongside specially-made digital content evoking the sights and sounds of Mesolithic Yorkshire, as well as footage of excavations providing the latest insights into archaeological work on the site.
Visitors will also be able to see a wooden paddle, and planks believed to show some of the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe.
The Yorkshire Museum’s own collection of material excavated at Star Carr will form the core of the exhibition, complemented by loans from museums all over the country including Scarborough Museums Trust, Cambridge Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, and the University of York.
Curator of Archaeology Natalie McCaul holding the deer headdress.
‘Eleven thousand years ago at Star Carr, Stone Age people lived, hunted and worshipped. They built Britain’s oldest known house and wore deer skull head-dresses to hunt or to worship unknown Gods,’ said Natalie McCaul, Curator of Archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum. ‘For the first time since they were discovered, we have brought together some of these remarkable objects in this new exhibition. It is a unique chance to see them all under one roof and to learn more about the mysterious people who lived in Yorkshire thousands of years ago.’
Star Carr, near modern Scarborough, is the internationally-renowned type-site for understanding hunter-gatherer communities of the Mesolithic period in Europe. It has been investigated by archaeologists since 1948, including by researchers from the University of York (CA 275).
Professor Nicky Milner, of the University of York, who has co-directored excavations at Star Carr since 2004, said: ‘We are very excited about this exhibition: this site is incredibly important and it is fantastic that people will get a chance to see the amazing finds which tell the story of how people lived 11,000 years ago.’
After the Ice: Yorkshire’s Prehistoric People will run for 12 months. For more information, visit www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk