Actually, the waters that have covered Lunt Meadows at various times in the last seven and a half millennia have not always been still; nor have they been particularly deep. But, crucially, they have been there; and they have preserved beneath them secrets that have only been revealed in the last few years.
An excavation led by Ron Cowell, Curator of Prehistoric Archaeology at the Museum of Liverpool, has discovered evidence of a mesolithic settlement dating from at least 8000 years ago. In fact, a number of features seem to suggest that this was a well-organised dwelling site that had been used over a considerable period of time, although probably seasonally, rather than continuously.
We went over to the museum recently where Ron showed us how a special app that had been created for the project was able to bring the site “to life”, and better help us to appreciate some of the finds.
In addition to what the site tells us about mesolithic settlements, there were a number of instances where stones had been placed deliberately in what may have been some expression of belief. Interpretation can only be tentative at present, but these finds could, in time, prove to be a significant contribution to our understanding of mesolithic culture.
Later, Ron took us out to Lunt Meadows where he explained more about the context and showed us how the layers of fresh water clay and then marine clay had built up, effectively sealing the site until they began to uncover it in 2012. Not only had the water helped to preserve the site from later use and deterioration, but those additional layers of clay acted as a shield against the ploughs that would have cut through the subsequently formed topsoil.
A fascinating day, made all the better by an expert guide, excellent company and a rather nice walk.
A plan of the site
This shows the fairly deep accumulation of topsoil and then the grey layer of marine clay, from the salt water marsh, beneath it. Below that there is a layer of fresh water clay before the mesolithic “floor”. On the top, you can see a selection of prehistoric finds in the form of TAS members.
Ron explaining the layering.
The use of photogrammetry and a QR code enables visitors to the museum to spin 3D images of the finds for better inspection.