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Aurochs hunters : the large animal bones from Blick Mead.

Rogers, B. and Gron, K. and Montgomery, J. and Gröcke, D.R. and Rowley-Conwy, P. (2018) 'Aurochs hunters : the large animal bones from Blick Mead.', in Blick mead : exploring the 'first place' in the Stonehenge landscape. Archaeological excavations at Blick Mead, Amesbury, Wiltshire 2005–2016. Oxford: Peter Lang, pp. 127-152. Studies in the British Mesolithic and Neolithic. (1).


The site of Blick Mead has attracted an unusual degree of interest. In addition to its intrinsic importance as a Mesolithic site, its location less than two kilometres east of Stonehenge and its temporal overlap with the massive Mesolithic posts in the Stonehenge carpark mean that it is the earliest settlement site in the region of the monument (e.g. Parker-Pearson et al. 2015). The site has provided an animal bone sample of modest size but great importance. Faunal remains reveal much about the socio-economic basis and cultural practices of their time. Very few Mesolithic faunal assemblages are known from Britain, so any new discovery greatly advances our understanding of the period. In the following report we do two things. First, we present a zooarchaeological analysis of the material; the most remarkable aspect of this is the high proportion of aurochs (Bos primigenius), so far unequalled at any other Mesolithic site in Britain and the near continent. Second, we present a stable isotopic analysis of aurochs teeth. We thus aim not only to get a better understanding of the site and its inhabitants, but also of the life of the extinct ancestor of modern domestic cattle, by focusing on their diet and migratory habits. The current excavations at Blick Mead began in 2005. Mesolithic remains have been discovered in Trenches 19, 22 and 23. The assemblages of struck flint and burnt stone are considerably larger than those at most other Mesolithic sites in Britain (Jacques, this volume), and indicate a substantial Mesolithic occupation at the site. The quantity of flint suggests that this was a home-base used over many years. The radiocarbon dates from six animal bone and tooth enamel fragments, which span the period between 7596-7542 cal BC and 4846-4695 cal BC, reinforce the suggestion that the site marks a ’persistent place’ in the landscape (Jacques, this volume). Parts of this assemblage were initially examined, and its importance understood, by the late Tony Legge. We dedicate this study to his memory.

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is an Accepted Manuscript that has been published in Blick Mead: Exploring the 'first place' in the Stonehenge landscape. Archaeological excavations at Blick Mead, Amesbury, Wiltshire 2005–2016 by / edited by David Jacques, Tom Phillips and Tom Lyons in the series Studies in the British Mesolithic and Neolithic. The original work can be found at: © Peter Lang AG, 2018. All rights reserved.
Date accepted:04 July 2016
Date deposited:12 July 2016
Date of first online publication:27 February 2018
Date first made open access:27 February 2019

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