An aerial photograph looking
south, showing the Howick Burn discharging into the North Sea in the
archaeologists John Davies and Jim Hutchinson discovered Mesolithic flint
from a cliff-edge at
Howick, Northumberland. This prompted a detailed investigation of the
site by archaeologists from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne during
the summers of 2000 and 2002. The remains of a Mesolithic hut were
discovered revealing evidence of three distinct structural phases.
dates taken from
successive hearth features indicate that the hut was constructed c.
7,800 BC (cal). The Howick structure is therefore the earliest dated
evidence for human settlement in Northumberland, and moreover, is one of only
a few Stone Age dwellings known from the British Isles. Over 18,000 pieces
of flint were recovered during the excavations, as well as charred animal
bone, charred hazelnut shells, red ochre and occasional shell fragments.
All finds had their location
recorded through the use of a Total Station,
and all archaeological deposits were passed through a sieve
and flotation tank to
maximise recovery. As a result, the work at Howick represents
one of the most detailed Mesolithic excavations hitherto undertaken
anywhere in Europe.