8,000 year-old dive site yields secrets

Artefacts off the Isle of Wight revealed by men and lobsters

Author: Pat
2nd February 2012
 

Archaeologists have shed more light on a unique 8,000 year-old settlement beneath the Solent.

The Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology has been diving – literally – into the Mesolithic past of Bouldnor Cliff, near Yarmouth. The Trust has now published its first findings in a 200 page report with the Council for British Archaeology, and with support from English Heritage.

It details the groundbreaking methods and fascinating results drawn from this 8,000 year-old pre-historic site. Bouldnor Cliff is 11 metres below the surface and approximately 250 metres offshore from Bouldnor, near Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. The site lies within the Solent Maritime Special Area of Conservation.

Excavations have been ongoing there since the Mesolithic settlement was first identified in 1999, when a lobster was seen throwing Stone Age worked flints from its burrow. Since then the site has yielded numerous secrets, including the oldest piece of string and more than a quarter of all the worked Mesolithic timber that has ever been recovered in this country.

The material so far recovered has already demonstrated that the technology of the era was 2,000 years ahead of what archaeologists previously believed.

Fast flowing tidal conditions in the Solent pose numerous problems for archaeologists working at Bouldnor, and several new techniques have been developed to make work easier. And the site is constantly being eroded by the Solent’s tides, with new material exposed each year.

Dives this September will make use of some of the latest technology to enrich the excavations, including a live video feed to allow staff topside to watch in real time.

 
 
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