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Mesolithic 10000/8500 - 4200 BC

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A Gazetteer of Mesolithic sites on Thanet

The sites:
Bethlehem Farm
Stone Bay Broadstairs
Quex Park Birchington
All Saints Avenue
Drapers Mills
QEQM Margate
Northdown Road
Thanet Reach
Manston Road Ramsgate

A Late Mesolithic-Early Neolithic Transition of continuity?

Artefact scales in centimetre divisions

Feature scales in ten centimetre divisions

A Gazetteer of Mesolithic sites on Thanet

The wildwood

Below is the current list of sites on Thanet which are known to have produced either certain or potential evidence of Mesolithic activity.

All the sites are represented by residual flint scatters, except the Thanet Reach Business Park, Westwood which has produced the only evidence of features possibly dating to this period.
Non-local Mesolithic tranchet adze
Non-local tranchet adze

The sites are presented in the order of their respective entries in the Thanet Sites and Monuments Register and include bibliographical references.

At the left-hand side of the page are 'quick-review'  summary notes on each entry. Where the site has also produced evidence of Earlier Neolithic activity, this has been noted.

The sites
LM flint axe (destroyed)
Surface find

(I) Nethercourt, Ramsgate 1962.
In 1962 a small Late Mesolithic flaked axe ('Thames Pick' series) was discovered in Eskdale Avenue on the Nethercourt Estate. This piece was unfortunately destroyed in the fire at Ramsgate Library.

NGR 636481 165233 (approximate).

TSMR 163.

Thanet Excavation Group record cards.
Birch et al 1987, p7.
Flint axe
Surface find

(II) Bethlehem Farm, Cliffsend.
A 'Thames Pick' (flint axe) was found during fieldwalking at Bethlehem Farm, Cliffsend. It was discovered in a field north of the farm and south of the railway cutting.

NGR TR 347 646 (area).

TSMR 171.

DRJ. Perkins pers comm. with finder.
Birch et al 1987, p7.
Stone Bay Broadstairs

Flint scatter

Geometric microliths
Burins ?
Beach find -
eroded from cliff-top

(III) Stone Bay, Broadstairs 1967.
In 1967 Mr. Montague Puckle (Deputy Keeper of Archaeology at St. Albans Museum) found a small flint scraper and 10-12 geometric microliths on the beach east of Bleak House. He believed them to have eroded from the clifftop overburden, which at this point is sand and brickearth c.1.5m deep.

The finds were passed to Dr. Waecter at the Institute of Archaeology, London. An attempt to locate these finds has had no succcess so far.

Another source (Birch et al 1987) lists the discovery of burins at this location. It is not currently known whether these are additional finds or a reference to the Puckle discovery.

NGR 639986 167929 (approximate).

TSMR 213.

Birch et al 1987, p7; Minter and Herbert 1973, p2.
Flint scatter
Subsoil find

(IV) Westwood.
Mesolithic and Neolithic flints have been found in the subsoil on both sides of the Margate to Ramsgate road. They have also been recovered in the gardens of Star Lane and those fronting Ramsgate Road. The scatter indicates an extensive ocupation site (from TR 364 680 to 364 685).

NGR 636414 168396 (area).

TSMR 270.
Flint scatter

(V) Quex Park, Birchington.
Mesolithic flints have been found at Quex Park and are held by the Powell-Cotton Museum.
NGR 631243 168339 (area).

TSMR 341.
Nigel Macpherson Grant pers comm.
Wymer 1977.
All Saints Avenue Margate

Residual  flints
Marsh-side enviroment

(VI) All Saints Avenue, Margate 2004.
Excavation led by Paul Hart, Trust for Thanet Archaeology; (ASA 04).

This site revealed some residual Mesolithic flintwork. Neolithic flints and features were also present. Some of the flints were potentially of Earlier-Middle Neolithic date, with others from the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age. At least one feature (a pit) may potentially date to the Middle Neolithic, with others being later.

The excavation also revealed evidence of the marshy enviroment which formerly existed at this low-lying location. Whether it was present throughout the entire Mesolithic Period is uncertain, though it is likely to have been in place once Post-Glacial sea levels had reached their height.

NGR 634832 170423 (approximate).

TSMR 749.
Butler The flint in Hart/Moody (forthcoming);
Hart and Moody 2005; Moody 2004.
Bladelet from Drapers Mills Margate

Residual bladelets - LM/EN ?

(VII) Drapers Mills School, Margate 2005.
Excavation led by Paul Hart, Trust for Thanet Archaeology; (DMM 05).

Two proximal bladelet fragments most likely to be of Late Mesolithic or Earlier Neolithic date were recovered here. These pieces were residual in later features.

A  site near QEQM Hospital which provided evidence of both Early Neolithic and Late Mesolithic activity is only 600m to the south-west. The evidence from Drapers Mills could be part of the same episode of occupation.

NGR 636180 169920 (approximate).

TSMR 780.
Gardner and Moody  2006.
Bladelet core rejuvination flake from QEQM Margate

Residual flints in EN pit

(VIII) QEQM Hospital, Margate 2005.
Excavation led by Oliver Gardner and Ges Moody, Trust for Thanet Archaeology; (NAM05).

Excavations at this site uncovered a small Early Neolithic pit which likely contained residual Late Mesolithic flintwork. This included a rejuvination flake from a bladelet core, possibly Late Mesolithic in date.

NGR 636025 169416 (approximate).

TSMR 807.
Boast/Moody forthcoming.
Bladelet from Northdown Road Cliftonville

Bladelet fragment - LM/EN ?
Surface find

(IX) Northdown Road, Cliftonville 2005.
Watching Brief conducted by Paul Hart, Trust for Thanet Archaeology; (CRL05).

A 'fieldwalk' of the heavily disturbed surface of this development site recovered a fragment of a small flint blade flake which could well be of Mesolithic or Earlier Neolithic date (though may be later).

NGR 636945 170717 (approximate).

TSMR 835.

Hart 2005.
Potential Mesolithic flints from Thanet Reach Westwood

Pit containing flints
4 stake-holes

(X) Thanet Reach, Westwood 1996.
Evaluation led by David Perkins, Trust for Thanet Archaeology; (TRP96).

An Evaluation at this site revealed a pit and 4 stake-holes. A small asemblage of worked flints was recovered from the pit. All these features were filled with a fine white loess. Plant colonisation of this soil at Pegwell Bay has been dated to circa 4170BC.

2 microburin-like flakes were recovered, but no other specifically diagnostic Mesolithic pieces. This site should date no later than the very first centuries of the Early Neolithic Period and may well represent Mesolithic occupation.

The results of further archaeological work conducted latterly at this site by other archaeological units are unknown at present.

NGR 637181 167694 (area).

Perkins 1996; Perkins 1997, p229; Weir, Catt and Madgett 1971.

Flint scatter

Butchered animal bone
Surface scatter presumed

Possibly EN ?

(XI) Chilton, Ramsgate.
Butchered animal bones and flint blade-flakes were discovered here at what may have been an open camp site (D.R.J. Perkins pers comm.); (finds with the owner).

NGR 636257 164702 (area).

Birch et al 1987, p7.

This location is close to an Earlier Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure which could well be the source of the finds. There are difficulties in distinguishing general Early Neolithic flintwork from Late Mesolithic material lacking specific diagnostic pieces.  However, Thanet's only examples of Mesolithic axes have also been found nearby - at Nethercourt (I) and Bethlehem Farm (II).


Bladelet and bladelet fragment from Manston Road Ramsgate

Residual bladelets - LM/EN ?

(XII) Manston Road, Ramsgate 2004.
Excavation led by Jack Russell, Trust for Thanet Archaeology (MRR04).

A site next to the Tesco store revealed a residual bladelet and bladelet fragment which could be of Late Mesolithic or Earlier Neolithic date (though may be later). Evidence of both periods has been recovered nearby (sites I and XI).

Of the two options it is possible that they may date to the Earlier Neolithic on account of them being made of Bullhead Bed flint (though this is highly speculative). Evidence from the Early Neolithic pit at QEQM (site VIII) shows the certain use of Bullhead flint confined to the contemporary, Early Neolithic material.

NGR 636009 165644 (approximate).

Boast 2006.

A Late Mesolithic - Early Neolithic
Transition of continuity?

Early Neolithic bladelet from QEQM Margate
Early Neolithic bladelet from QEQM

The similarities present in some of the flintwork from the Late Mesolithic and Early Neolithic periods can make them difficult to distinguish and separate. Thus there is a danger of mixing one with another, such as the potential finds from Chilton (XI above).

However this may be a reflection that many aspects of their daily lives remained the same and people living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle at the very end of the Mesolithic would have been unaware that they were crossing our somewhat artificial boundary into the New Stone Age circa 4200BC.

Several sites on Thanet have produced evidence of both Mesolithic/Late Mesolithic and Earlier Neolithic occupation. They cannot be said with certainty to illustrate a continuity of occupation of favoured locations; precise dating evidence is too poor for that. However we may be getting a hint that our Early Neolithic ancestors were following in the footsteps of their Late Mesolithic forebears.
Early Neolithic pit at QEQM Margate
Pit at QEQM

This might be most clearly seen in the Early Neolithic pit from QEQM Margate (VIII), which also produced probable Late Mesolithic flintwork.

The Chilton site (XI) could be another good example, should certain Mesolithic flints have been recovered here. Both of Thanet's Mesolithic axes have been found close to this spot; a location which became home to a Causewayed Enclosure in the Earlier Neolithic.
Early Neolithic core from North Foreland Avenue
Early Neolithic flint core from
North Foreland Avenue

Recent excavations by Oxford Archaeology (Oxford 2005) have revealed evidence of Early Neolithic pits just a short distance away from the potential Mesolithic features at Thanet Reach (X).

A Beaker barrow discovered at North Foreland Avenue produced Early Neolithic flintwork from the backfill of the grave. Two small cube-shaped cores were recovered, plus a bladelet (which would not have been out of place in a Late Mesolithic flint assemblage). Mesolithic tools had previously been found just over 1km to the south at Stone Bay (III). 
All Saints Avenue Margate
All Saints Avenue Margate

A site at All Saints Avenue Margate (VI) revealed residual Mesolithic activity plus flints of potential Early to Middle Neolithic date. There were also some Neolithic features, though the earliest would most likely be only of Middle Neolithic date. This site also provided evidence of the mere which gave its name to 'Mere-Gate'; showing that our Mesolithic ancestors may have been utilising the marshy enviroment here.



TSMR - Thanet Sites and Monuments Record.


Birch D., Boakes P., Elworthy S., Hollins C. and Perkins D.R.J. 1987. The Gateway Island - Archaeological Discoveries in Thanet 1630-1987. Thanet Archaeological Unit.

Boast E.J. 2006. Excavations at Manston Road Ramsgate. Trust for Thanet Archaeology report (in preparation).

Hart P.C. 2005 . A three-storey building for Churchill Retirement Living, 326 Northdown road, Cliftonvile, Kent.
Trust for Thanet Archaeology report.

Hart P.C. and Moody G.A. 2005. All Saints Avenue, Margate, Kent. Trust for Thanet Archaeology Assessment report.

Gardner O.W. and Moody G. 2006.  Excavations at Drapers Mills County Primary School, Margate, Kent.
Trust for Thanet Archaeology report

Minter K.S. and Herbert E.F. 1973. Archaeological discoveries in Broadstairs and St. Peter's up to 1972. Broadstairs and St. Peter's Archaeological Society.

Moody G.A. 2004. 135 All Saints Avenue, Margate, Kent. Trust for Thanet Archaeology Evaluation report.

Oxford Archaeology 2005. Land adjacent to Tesco Extra, Margate Road, Broadstairs, Kent.

Perkins D.R.J. 1996. Thanet Reach Business Park.
Trust for Thanet Archaeology

Perkins D.R.J. 1997. Thanet Reach Business Park site, St. Peter's, Broadstairs. Archaeologia Cantiana CXVII.

Weir A.H., Catt J.A. and Madgett P.A. 1971. Periglacial soil formation in the loess at Pegwell Bay, Kent. Geoderma 5.

Wymer J.J. 1977. A Gazetteer of Mesolithic and Upper Palaeolithic Sites in England and Wales. CBA Research Report no. 20.

The text is the responsibility of the author; the photographs are by the author unless otherwise stated.

Paul Hart

Version 1 - Posted 02.04.06
Version 2 - Posted 17.05.06
Version 3 - Posted 25.07.06
Version 4 - Posted 21.10.06

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