Star Carr (G-B): Archeologists Find 11,000-Year-Old Engraved Pendant

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Image 3660 star carr pendant11,000-year-old engraved shale pendant. Image credit: Milner, N. et al. / Internet Archaeology, doi: 10.11141/ia.40.8.

Crafted from a piece of shale, the subtriangular pendant measures 31 x 35 x 3 mm.

According to a team of archaeologists led by University of York scientist Nicky Milner, this artifact contains a series of lines which they believe may represent a tree, a map, a leaf or even tally marks.

Engraved motifs on Mesolithic pendants are extremely rare, with the exception of amber pendants from southern Scandinavia,” Prof. Milner and her colleagues said.

The artwork on the pendant is the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain.”

The barbed line motif is comparable to styles in continental Europe, particularly in Denmark.

It was incredibly exciting to discover such a rare object,” Prof. Milner said.

It is unlike anything we have found in Britain from this period. We can only imagine who owned it, how they wore it and what the engravings actually meant to them.”

One possibility is that the pendant belonged to a shaman — headdresses made out of red deer antlers found nearby in earlier excavations are thought to have been worn by shamans.”

We can only guess what the engravings mean but engraved amber pendants found in Denmark have been interpreted as amulets used for spiritual personal protection.”

This exciting find tells us about the art of the first permanent settlers of Britain after the last Ice Age,” added team member Dr. Chantal Conneller, of the University of Manchester, UK.

This was a time when sea-level was much lower than today. Groups roamed across Doggerland (land now under the North Sea) and into Britain.”

The designs on our pendant are similar to those found in southern Scandinavia and other areas bordering the North Sea, showing a close cultural connection between northern European groups at this time.”

We are thrilled to be able to showcase such a nationally significant object for the first time,” said Dr. Natalie McCaul of the Yorkshire Museum.

Its remarkable discovery changes the way we think about our ancestors who lived in Yorkshire 11,000 years ago and the rituals, beliefs and cultural values that were part of their lives.”

The find is described in the journal Internet Archaeology.

Milner, N. et al. 2016. A Unique Engraved Shale Pendant from the Site of Star Carr: the oldest Mesolithic art in Britain. Internet Archaeology 40; doi: 10.11141/ia.40.8