11,000 year old artefacts go on display at Rotunda Museum

Auroch's skull, patr of the Star Carr finds on show at the Rotunda
Auroch's skull, patr of the Star Carr finds on show at the Rotunda

Artefacts from one of the world’s most important Mesolithic sites, Star Carr, near Scarborough, have gone on display at the town’s Rotunda Museum.

The items, from the waterlogged area at the Scarborough end of the Vale of Pickering known as The Carrs, include a stag frontlet (a red deer skull which may have been used as a ceremonial headdress or hunting disguise), birch bark rolls, which may have been used to extract resin as an adhesive for flint tools, and animal remains such as those of the red deer, beaver, pine marten and aurochs – an extinct ox.

Jennifer Dunne, Collections Manager at Scarborough Museums Trust, with the Star Carr display at The Rotunda Museum .

Jennifer Dunne, Collections Manager at Scarborough Museums Trust, with the Star Carr display at The Rotunda Museum .

The objects, all dating from the early Mesolithic period (around 8,500-9,000 BC), were excavated from Star Carr between 1949 and 1951 by local amateur archaeologist John Moore, who had first discovered the site after spotting exposed flints in the soil, and Professor Grahame Clark of Cambridge University.

As well as the display, visitors to the museum will see new artwork recreating Mesolithic scenes by York-based archaeological artist Dominic Andrews and hear a soundscape created by University of York archaeologist Dr Ben Elliot and Dr John Hughes, research fellow at the University of Leeds. The soundscape includes scenes of how Mesolithic life around Lake Flixton may have sounded, from working flint tools to animal calls and shamanistic rituals.

And for the first few months, there will be an interactive map of Star Carr provided by Dr Rob McKay of the University of Hull and three BA Creative Music Technology students.

The Rotunda exhibition has been curated by SMT’s Collections Manager Jennifer Dunne, with expert advice from University of York archaeologist Professor Nicky Milner, who has led on the most recent work at Star Carr, and PhD student Don Henson who is researching ways of making information about the Mesolithic era more accessible to the public.

Jennifer says: “Star Carr is widely recognised as one of the world’s most important Mesolithic sites, and we’re very lucky at Scarborough Museums Trust to hold some key items from the early excavations.

“The items are in such good condition due to the pet deposits in which they were found preventing oxygen and bacteria from reaching the organic remains. It’s what makes Star Carr hugely important: no other Mesolithic site in the world has revealed as much about what life might have been like 11,000 years ago.”

The Rotunda is open Tuesday to Saturdays from 10am to 5pm, plus Bank Holidays.