Burry Holms, Gower Early Mesolithic and later Prehistoric Site

Staff: Elizabeth Walker
Microliths
Microliths from Burry Holms, Gower. Each microlith illustrated here is less than 50mm (2 inches) long. Microliths were widely used across Europe during the Middle Stone Age, or Mesolithic. This period dates from the end of the Ice Age (about 9200BC) until the introduction of agriculture to Wales (4000BC).

A Mesolithic site on Burry Holms was first recorded in 1923 by H.E. David and T.C. Lethbridge who undertook a small scale investigation of an area from which flints were eroding on the western side of Burry Holms island. Study of these finds led to a field research project in 1998–2001 to try to establish whether or not any undisturbed Mesolithic deposits survive on the island and, if so, whether it would be possible to obtain further evidence for the use of the area, the date of use and the contemporary environmental conditions at the site.

Archaeological investigation demonstrated that bone, pollen and other organic remains had not been preserved, with the exception of only the more robust charred nutshells and charcoal. There were, however, a number of stone tools and debitage from a sequence of deposits, including an early Mesolithic layer in which an assemblage of microliths, microdenticulates, scrapers, blade cores, blades and knapping debitage was found. Excavation of the upper wind blown sands, that overlie the Mesolithic deposits, revealed the first glimpse of later Prehistoric activity on this part of the island, a later Prehistoric roundhouse.

A full analysis of the finds and samples obtained during the excavation is proposed using specialists input from a variety of institutions. This work will see the full publication of both existing and new collections of artefacts, as well as the analysis and study of the later archaeology.