Star Carr, in North Yorkshire, is celebrated as Britain’s most important Mesolithic (‘Middle Stone Age’; c.9000-4000 BC) site, home to an extraordinary hunter-gatherer settlement that has yielded unprecedented insights into a little-understood period of Britain’s history.
When the site was first excavated over 70 years ago, Mesolithic people were stereotyped as primitive nomads, but recent work by the University of York, Newcastle University, and the University of Chester has revealed a much larger, more consistently occupied, and far more culturally sophisticated site than was previously suspected.
The peaty conditions of the local soil mean that Star Carr’s remains have been spectacularly well preserved for over 11,000 years: preserving vivid details about what its inhabitants ate, the massive timber platforms (made from huge split timbers including entire tree trunks) they constructed on the lake’s edge, and the tools they used – as well as enigmatic clues to possibly ceremonial activities, including sacrificial offerings of animals placed in the shallows, and antler ‘frontlet’ headdresses crafted from deer skulls.
Accepting the award for Research Project of the Year on behalf of the project was Professor Nicky Milner of the University of York.
Professor Nicky Milner said: ‘The Star Carr team is absolutely delighted to win this award, particularly as the project is coming to a close, having published two open-access monographs with White Rose Press. It has been such a privilege to work at this site, but also to be able to share our discoveries with such an interested public audience, including many readers of Current Archaeology. We hope we have inspired many people with this site and the Mesolithic!’
For a full list of the nominees, visit www.archaeology.co.uk/awards
Notes for Editors: Current Archaeology Awards
- Current Archaeology, the UK’s leading archaeology magazine, announced the winners of their 2020 awards, presented by archaeologist and educator Julian Richards (who previously headed the popular archaeological television programme Meet the Ancestors) on February 28, as part of the annual Current Archaeology Live! 2020 conference, held at the University of London’s Senate House.
- Voted for by subscribers and members of the public, the awards recognise the outstanding contributions to our understanding of the past made by the people, projects, and publications featured in the pages of Current Archaeology over the previous 12 months.
- The 2020 Current Archaeology Award for Research Project of the Year was sponsored by Export and General Insurance Services Ltd.
- The diverse finds from the project were published as ‘Life beside the lake: opening a new window on the Mesolithic at Star Carr’ in Current Archaeology 349.