Saturday, December 04, 2004


Submerged village found in Solent


Isle of Wight County Press
By Martin Neville

Archaeologists say the discovery of a mesolithic hearth off the Island is of potential international importance.

The discovery was made by chance during a routine inspection along a mesolithic site off Bouldnor, near Yarmouth.

The hearth, or oven pit, contained burnt flints and clay nodules, which are thought to have been used to boil water for cooking.

Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology is hoping to gather funds for a full investigation of the newly discovered site.

"The hearth is cut into the landscape so we know it's part of that landscape," said Garry Momber, trust director.

"Another area of interest, two metres to the west of the hearth, is what appears to be a mishmash of timbers.

"We are not sure what this is yet, it could just be a bunch of roots but it happens to be very close to where the cooking area is.

"At similar sites in the Baltic the hearth is the centre of a settlement so perhaps these are the remains of structures.

There is nothing like this in the UK. "The site, which thousands of years ago would have been above sea level, is the most significant of several prehistoric finds within the rich archaeological landscape in the western Solent.

Last month, divers made another exciting discovery in the form of a piece of birch tree which had a piece of burnt flint stuck in it. It is believed to be between 8,500 and 10,000 years old. "That piece of flint didn't get there by accident," said Mr Momber, speaking at the trust's annual public lecture on Thursday last week. "It has been hammered into the side of the timber.

When we talked about this in the office, we tried to think of a reason why someone would do that. "There could be a whole ream of reasons why it's there. "But that is the essence of archaeology.

What was it used for? What is it telling us about the past? "It's only by careful excavation and recording of the site that we are able to actually put it into context and try to relate what we have found to the landscape.

"The problem is, we have only spent around two hours on the site, which is being eroded away. "These things are so delicate everything is going and we are in a position where we need to go back out and find out more and rescue and record what's down there before it's gone for good."

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