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Archaeological fieldwork preceding housing development revealed a Mesolithic site in a primary context. A central hearth was evident from a cluster of calcined flint and bone, the latter producing a modelled date for the start of occupation at 8220–7840 cal bc and ending at 7960–7530 cal bc (95% probability). The principal activity was the knapping of bladelets, the blanks for microlith production. Impact-damaged microliths indicated the re-tooling of hunting weaponry, while microwear analysis of other tools demonstrated hide working and butchery activity at the site. The lithics can be classified as a Honey Hill assemblage type on the basis of distinctive leaf-shaped microlithic points with inverse basal retouch.
Such assemblages have a known concentration in central England and are thought to be temporally intermediate between the conventional British Early and Late Mesolithic periods. The lithic assemblage is compared to other Honey Hill type and related Horsham type assemblages from south-eastern England. Both assemblage types are termed Middle Mesolithic and may be seen as part of wider developments in the late Preboreal and Boreal periods of north-west Europe. Rapid climatic warming at this time saw the northward expansion of deciduous woodland into north-west Europe. Emerging new ecosystems presented changes in resource patterns and the Middle Mesolithic lithic typo-technological developments reflect novel foraging strategies as adaptations to the new opportunities of Boreal forest conditions. While Honey Hill-type assemblages are seen as part of such wider processes their distinctive typological signature attests to autochthonous, regional developments of human groups infilling the landscape. Such cultural insularity may reflect changing social boundaries with reduction in mobility range and physical isolation caused by rising sea level and the creation of the British archipelago.
Considerable debate persists concerning the origins of those involved in the adventus Saxonum: the arrival of Germanic peoples in Britain during the fifth century AD. This question was investigated using oxygen and strontium isotope ratios obtained from archaeological dental samples from individuals in the ‘Migration Period’ cemetery, Ringlemere, Kent (n = 7) and three continental European sites (n = 17). Results demonstrated that strontium alone is unable to distinguish between individuals from south-east England and north-west Europe. Although 87Sr/86Sr values from Ringlemere fell within local biosphere parameters and suggest a spatially and temporally related group, δ18O values were inconsistent with origins in eastern England or on the North German plain. Results from the European sites negate past climate change as an explanation. It is possible that culturally mediated behaviour has obscured geographical relationships. Further work to characterize water sources and human δ18O values in the putative European homelands is required.
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