A magnified image of the larger bead found at Star Carr during the recent excavations
Crosshatch engravings on the larger shale bead

The shale beads found during our excavations

During our excavations we found three shale beads. Two of these were found in situ (i.e. within the peat) and are very similar in size and shape to those found by Clark.

The third bead was found within Clark’s backfill (the soil that Clark dug out of his trenches and then used to fill them back in). What is slightly odd about this bead is that it is a lot larger than the others. Because this was found in the backfill and because we know that in the 1950s some of the students played a trick on Clark and planted pottery in the trench, we are not 100% sure whether this bead is actually Mesolithic (and not noticed during the excavations) or whether a student made it as a joke.

What is intriguing is that there are some crosshatch engravings on one side of the backfill bead, seen under the microscope, which are typical of the kind of “geometric” artwork we see in the Mesolithic. This currently remains a mystery!

Further resources

Here is a video of Dr Barry Taylor having just found a bead!

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

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Exploring Stone Age Archaeology: The Mysteries of Star Carr

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