Mesolithic Merseyside

With a variety of Mesolithic sites on Merseyside, ranging from flint scatters at Tarbock and Crosby, and Mesolithic settlements in Ditton Brook and Sefton, we’re left with the suggestion that the Mesolithic landscape consisted of a series of human settlements along the coast.

The settlements would have been visited regularly – perhaps seasonally – and returned to year after year. Until recently, the only evidence we had for Mesolithic human activity were flint scatters and footprints preserved in the sands on the Irish Sea coast at Formby. However, pioneering work in 2012 by Ron Cowell and the Environment Agency revealed structures dated to 5,800 BC at Lunt Meadows in Sefton.

The structures are thought to be houses, and if so are the first evidence that Mesolithic humans were not purely nomadic people, using little more than flimsy temporary ‘tents’ to live in. Settlements on Mesolithic Merseyside would vary in size, with larger camps acting as bases from which to spread out over the region for tasks like hunting, foraging, or butchery.

The Mesolithic landscape would have been covered in forest, with clearings created by humans burning the vegetation. This would have helped encourage biodiversity, and helped corral animals into a place where they could be killed and butchered. The trees were oak and hazel, developing new species around 5,000 BC. The land was marshy in places, though it would have been more open closer to the coast.