Record Details

NHER Number:24377
Type of record:Find Spot
Name:Early Mesolithic flint working site beside former channel of the River Nar


Fieldwalking as part of the Fenland Project in 1988 identified a scatter of worked Mesolithic flints, close to a former channel of the River Nar. As this was the only securely dated Mesolithic flint scatter to be identified in the Nar Valley this site was selected for further investigation as part of the Fenland Evaluation Project. An auger survey suggested that whilst ploughing had removed any occupation surface, there was a possibility that part of the site might still be sealed by localised residual peat deposits. This survey was followed by further fieldwalking and a trial trench evaluation, both of which were undertaken as part of the Fenland Management Project. A total of 201 flints were recovered during the fieldwalking, the bulk of which appeared to be associated with an Early Mesolithic blade-based industry. The trial trench evaluation demonstrated that peat on the site was restricted to a component of the ploughsoil, with underlying deposits having been significantly eroded by ploughing as the peat wasted. Although it was originally thought that the flints had originated from a sand hill emerging from the peat this proved not to be the case. The flints appeared to be from a bankside context, most likely associated with a sand deposit which overlay a freshwater marl and had probably itself formed through river action.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 7074 1172
Map Sheet:TF71SW

Full description

9 March 1988. Fenland Project fieldwalking.
Poor conditions, maize rubbish disturbed by cows.
Site MRM 36.
On sand patch beside old course of River Nar. Small spread of flints. Max dimensions 28m E/W x 12m N/S. The flint assemblage was of potentially predominantly Mesolithic and included:
1 multiplatform (bipolar) core.
1 core trimming flake.
22 flakes.
21 blades.
1 microburin.
For further details see project archive (S1) and final report (S2).
R. Silvester (NAU), 9 March 1988. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 24 November 2013.

1989 to 1990. Fenland Evaluation Project.
Auger traverse across site and the former channel to the south, which contained waterlogged deposits. Auger samples taken from channel.
Dossier prepared (S3).
M. Leah (NAU), August 1990

1992. Fenland Management Project fieldwalking and excavations (Context 2).
Following an initial contour survey an area of approximately 1ha centred on this site was fieldwalking and all flints recovered individually plotted. Approximately 200 worked flints were recovered, the majority from a small area measuring c. 20m x 40m. This assemblage was identified as predominantly Mesolithic in date and appeared to represent a blade-based industry. Blades formed over 50% of the assemblage, with the remaining pieces mostly flakes. A number of cores were also present, along with 14 retouched pieces, including 5 microliths and a scraper. Six thin, curved flakes with faceted platforms may have been generated during the trimming or shaping of large core tools such as axes or adzes. It is possible that all of the artefacts recovered reflect the working down of a single large nodule. The technological characteristics of the assemblage and the microliths suggest an Early Mesolithic date.

Trial trenching had been recommended in order to define the extent of this site and any relationship to the palaeochannel, if activity extended beyond the residual peat. A single north-south aligned trench measuring 40m x 2m was excavated across the centre of the flint scatter. Before machining a series of 1m square test pits were excavated at 20m intervals along the trench, with soil removed by hand and passed through a 5mm sieve. The peaty ploughsoil was found to be relatively thin and completely unstructured. There were plough marks on the underlying coarse sand, indicating the extent to which this deposit had been subject to erosion as the peat wasted. No archaeologically significant features were observed. Test pits indicated that the coarse sand (which probably resulted from river action) overlay a freshwater grey-white clay marl, which in turn sealed a band of dark organic sand. Glacial sands and gravel were exposed beneath this possible buried soil. An auger survey indicated that the freshwater marl deposit extended at least 100m to the east and the west but had been eroded to the north and the south.
See archive summary (S4) and published report (S5) for further details. This work is also summarised in (S6).
E. Rose (NLA) 1 March 1993. Amended by P. Watkins (HES), 24 November 2013.

Monument Types

  • FINDSPOT (Early Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 7001 BC)
  • LITHIC WORKING SITE (Early Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 7001 BC)

Associated Finds

  • ANIMAL REMAINS (Undated)
  • FISH REMAINS (Undated)
  • POLLEN (Undated)
  • BLADE (Early Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 7001 BC)
  • BLADE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC? to 4001 BC?)
  • BLADE CORE (Early Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 7001 BC)
  • BLADE CORE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Early Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 7001 BC)
  • FLAKE (Mesolithic - 10000 BC? to 4001 BC?)
  • MICROBURIN (Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 4001 BC)
  • RETOUCHED FLAKE (Early Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 7001 BC)
  • SCRAPER (TOOL) (Early Mesolithic - 10000 BC to 7001 BC)

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Archive: Fenland Folders.
<S2>Monograph: Silvester, R. J. 1988. The Fenland Project Number 3: Marshland and Nar Valley, Norfolk. East Anglian Archaeology. No 45.
<S3>Unpublished Document: Leah, M. D. (NAU) and Mathews, M. (NAU). 1990. Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission Dossier.
<S4>Unpublished Document: Leah, M.. 1992. Fenland Management Project, Norfolk. Excavations at Hogg's Drove, Marham. Archive Summary.
<S5>Monograph: Crowson, A., Lane, T. and Reeve, J. (eds). 2000. Fenland Management Project Excavations 1991-1995. Lincolnshire Archaeology and Heritage Reports Series. No 3. pp 166, 168-172.
<S6>Article in Serial: Gurney, D. (ed.). 1993. Excavations and Surveys in Norfolk 1992. Norfolk Archaeology. Vol XLI Pt IV pp 522-532. p 527.

Related records - none

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