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North East Yorkshire Mesolithic Project

The Mesolithic period, also known as the Middle Stone Age, lasted for over 6000 years from around 10,000 BC to around 4000 BC. It began at the end of the last Ice Age (at the end of the Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age) and it continued until the first appearance of farming in the Neolithic (New Stone Age). Download our Mesolithic Leaflet to find out more.


Although the period was long we know relatively little about it. The North York Moors National Park and Tees Archaeology have teamed up to find out more and have set up a research project with funding from English Heritage.

Fieldwork at Farndale Moor

Initial Research

The project began in 2006 with an assessment of published sources, museum collections and information from the Historic Environment Record. 

You can read the full report on the initial research here: -

2006 Assessment Report

In 2008 volunteers were briefed and set to monitoring patches of erosion on the moors and recording any flints that were visible.

Our guidelines for collecting and recording flint scatters can be downloaded here:-

Flint Recording Guidelines          Flint Recording Key Facts

Several significant flint collections were reported as a result of this monitoring and have been assessed in the following report: -

Volunteer Flint Collection Report

Test Pitting at Farndale

Upleatham and Goldsborough 2008

Fieldwork for the Mesolithic project began in 2008 with shovel and test pitting at Upleatham and Goldsborough, both near the coast.  Mesolithic flints were recovered from both sites but were mainly from the topsoil or later prehistoric features.  To find out more please download the report for the 2008 field season below:-

2008 Report

Volunteers sieving at Goldsborough

Farndale Moor 2009

This fieldwork took place on the high moor top at Farndale where previous concentrations of Mesolithic flint had been noted.  Over 3000 flints were recovered associated with stone spreads and a number of cut features.  The report can be downloaded below:-

2009 Report

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Stone spread in Farndale test pit

Wetherhouse Moor and Bransdale 2010

Further fieldwork took place on the high moors in 2010.  The sites were chosen as there were documented flint collections from the area.  Wetherhouse Moor was badly disturbed by moor fires and road building.  The Bransdale site produced very late Mesolithic flint work and several shallow cut features.  More details can be found in the report: -

2010 Report

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Fieldwork at Wetherhouse Moor

2011 Overview

During 2011, we produced an overview of the entire project which is now available to download below.  This includes details of all three field seasons.

2011 Overview Report

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Test pit at Wetherhouse Moor

Flint Factsheets

The project produced several large assemblages of flint.  The initial resource assessment also highlighted the fact that the regions museums hold vast collections of prehistoric lithics, and many of these are poorly documented.  To help museums and private collecters we produced the following factsheets:-

Flint Recording Factsheets

Flint assemblage from White Gill in the Yorkshire Museum

Goldsborough 2012-2013 and final report

In 2012 a further and final round of English Heritage funding was confirmed to bring the project to a close.  This will include a geophysical survey at Goldsborough followed by a further season of excavation.  A booklet about the project will also be produced.  There is a link to the 2012 project proposal below:-

2012 Project Proposal

Recording archaeological features at Upleatham

Goldsborough 2012 Geophysical Survey

In May 2012 a geomagnetic survey was carried out at the Goldsborough site to see how effective the technique might be in identifying Mesolithic features.  The work was conducted by Archaeological Services, Durham University.

The results of the survey were encouraging with several anomalies identified consistent with buried ditches and gullies of a prehistoric settlement.  You can download the report for the work below: -

2012 Geophysical Survey

Geomagnetic survey 2012

Goldsborough 2012 Fieldwalking

In September 2012 we managed to gain access to the field following the terribly late harvests given the appalling weather over the summer.  A small team walked the field and managed to collect over 450 surface finds, most of which were flint.  The interim report of the fieldwalking can be downloaded below: -

2012 Fieldwalking Interim Report

Fieldwalking in 2012

Goldsborough 2013 Archaeological Excavation

In the very cold month of March we carried out a fortnight of archaeological test pitting at Goldsborough. Despite atrocious weather the team were able to excavate over 90 small test pits. Finds included an area of burnt stones and charcoal, not dissimilar to documented Mesolithic hearths. Flints from the excavations included some definitive Mesolithic pieces. Further work will now be carried out to date the hearth and the results will be published here when they are available.  In the meantime the interim report is below:-

2013 Fieldwork Interim Report

Test Pit at Goldsborough 2013

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