Neolithic Journey | Eston Hills arrowhead is well-travelled!

A late Neolithic arrowhead, a Ripple-flaked Oblique type more than 5000 years old and discovered in the 1980s, has always stood out amongst other finds because of the unusual quality of the flint and fine working. It’s tip and tail are both missing. Interestingly, a similar large example was found in the same vicinity, now in the Duffy collection at Kirkleatham Museum, Redcar. It is broken in the same way and has been burnt. The find spots are adjacent to a large, intact burial mound close to the Carr Ponds wetland at the north-western end of Eston Hills above Teesside, north-east England. While these burial mounds usually date to the Bronze Age, it is possible that some are of earlier date, before the arrival of copper and bronze metalwork.

ZAP! Science and lasers

The arrowhead was examined by Dr Tom Elliot of the University of Worcester and included in the analysis stage of his doctoral research¹, which investigated the geological source of Mesolithic artefacts from the Lower Wye Valley region of the Anglo-Welsh border. We’re extremely grateful to Tom for his help and interest.

This used Laser Ablation Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) and was conducted at the University of Oxford Department of Earth Sciences.

The results were compared to over 1200 analyses of geological samples from 21 bedrock sites from across the Chalk, as well as 14 sites that sampled a range of superficial deposits, such as river terrace gravels and glacial tills, centred on the Severn Valley and Estuary.

Statistical analysis indicates strongly that the arrowhead comes from the geology represented in the samples from Beer Head in Devon, and importantly discounted other geological sites sampled in Tom’s research.

Map of Chalk bedrock sample sites overlaid on White and Grey (darker green) Chalk and OS 50m DTM (click to enlarge).

FH – Flamborough Head, ER – Enthorpe Railway Cutting, WW – Welton Wold Chalk Pit, TC – Trimmingham Cliffs, CS – Caistor St Edmund Chalk Pit, BC – Brandon Country Park (superficial deposit samples), KC – Kensworth Chalk Pit, AR – Aston Rowant Nature Reserve, SL – South Lodge Chalk Pit, FG – Fognam Quarry, WB – Winterbourne Chalk Pit, BX – Boxford Chalk Pit, PF – Pewsey Hill Farm, LB – Langdon Bay, Dover, BM – Blick’s Mead/ Vespasian’s Camp (superficial deposit samples), WH – West Harnham Chalk Pit, SQ – Shillingstone Quarry, PH – Peacehaven Steps, BH – Hooken Cliff/ Beer Head, BP – Ballard Point, WN – White Nothe. © Tom Elliot.

While further investigation is needed to sample more geological material, particularly from the Teesside region, much of this material can already be ruled out by macroscopic visual comparison as it is often speckled and different to that of the artefact. The flint which occurs in our regional beach and glacial till deposits originated in chalk beds under the present North Sea (formerly Doggerland) and in neighbouring continental Europe, carried by the glaciers of the last Ice Age more than 12,000 years ago.

The implications of the results suggest that the arrowhead, or the material it was made from, travelled c.450km from the source at Beer Head in Devon, to the Eston Hills in North Yorkshire, putting it on a par with other widely distributed lithic materials during the Late Neolithic such as polished stone axes.

Thank you for reading — more news soon!

– Spencer Carter
Cleveland Archaeology Trust Project Team


¹ Elliot, T. (2019) The Mesolithic in the Marches: Geochemical Lithic Sourcing in the Lower Wye Valley. Unpublished PhD thesis. Worcester: University of Worcester.

March 2019 | Coordination to tackle arson and ASB on Eston Hills

Despite a 94% reduction in arson and anti-social behaviour on Eston Hills in 2018, this year has seen the problems start early, including fires and illegal off-road vehicles.

Adam Mead, archaeology co-director, and Rita Richardson of Friends of Eston Hills – of which Adam is now also a board member – convened an emergency meeting on Friday 29 March across multiple agencies and volunteer groups.

What follows here is a summary transcript of the meeting, with prospects and optimism around greater efforts. Archaeology projects are also seen as a significant component in public-community-landscape engagement and ongoing education.


Lots of interested parties attended:police, countryside ranger, Senior RCBC (Council) staff, Conservation advisor, Fire Brigade, Police (neighbourhood and motorcycle), MP’s office, PCC, Adam and myself.

Lots of new ideas were put on the table and we followed up lots of old ones – I did pass on everything I was asked to. There is some information that I can’t share yet,but I will when I can (trust me) but some good results.

  • Friends Of Eston Hills (FOEH) are going to be working with the Cleveland Fire Support Network- they will coordinate volunteers to walk the hills on evenings and weekends. They have volunteers but we need more so if you fancy being part of this voluntary team will you request to join our ‘working fb group’ – I will share the link. The special constables are also going to be part of this too.
  • The Fire Brigade were amazing: lots of initiatives going forward with the community and local schools. Education and information on ASB offered to all local schools and they will be running an amazing Competition for the kids.
  • Lots of positivity around another archeological dig – advice given regarding funding.
  • One idea which came to the table was an area just for bikes as happens in Durham. I loved it and will explore it and push for it.
  • The police informed us of DNA spray which they now use – you just need to spray someone with it as they are passing and it is perfect for illegal riders- you can find this on YouTube if you search. The police are doing their best but it is difficult for them with hardy any staff.
  • We spoke about rock armour and the barriers we have – more will follow on this.
  • Drones – the police will be using these.
  • Ranger Paul at the Flatts Lane country park centre will support FOEH and our working relationship will grow.

Even though they aren’t being caught on the hills at present, please report them as this helps with intelligence. Dial 999 in case of any fire or presence of firearms, 101 to report ASB or Crimestoppers.

The gates/barriers did help and in 2018: antisocial behaviour was down by 94%!

ASB has started much earlier this year so we need to work together to stop it.

One more thing Adam James Mead and I have thrown our hat into the ring as we both feel so strongly about all of this – we want changes – we want our community to feel safe up our hills SO we are both standing as independent councillors for the Teesville ward; with the boundary changes the ward covers most of Normanby and Eston too.

So hopefully we can push these changes forward and make more of a difference.

Rita Richardson (FOEH)


More on the archaeology project https://estonhillsproject.wordpress.com/


Thank you for reading — more news soon!

– Spencer
Cleveland Archaeology Project Team

Cleveland Archaeology | News Update October 2018: Posters, Funding and Geofizz

Spencer Carter, Projects Co-Director, will present a poster and talk about the ICE AND FIRE rescue archaeology project on Teesside’s Eston Hills, at the Palaeolithic & Mesolithic Conference being held at the British Museum, 25-6 October 2018.

Learn more about the project »

In the meantime, we have applied to Teesside Philanthropic Foundation for funding so that we can print more of the ICE AND FIRE 2018 Report booklet for distribution across schools and community outlets. Wish us luck!

Results!

We’re also delighted to have received the REAPING TIME geophysical survey report by Archaeological Services Durham University for the summer survey of more than 30ha as part of the initial Explore and Evaluate phase.

Learn more about the project »

The results are tremendously exciting and add much detail, as well as questions, to our observations of crop and soil marks from satellite and LiDAR (aerial laser) imagery. The report, in addition to the field-walking finds and surface observations, will influence our proposals for community engagement in 2019-20, subject to review and funding. Discussions will take place through November in the hope that we can kick-off more field-walking and finds processing in Spring 2019, followed by summer test pit excavations of selected features.


Thank you for reading — more news soon!

– Spencer
Cleveland Archaeology Project Team