Little Holtby was identified by fieldwalking and trial trenching at the end of the 20th century, which recovered over 3000 lithic artefacts. As part of the A1 Leeming to Barton scheme, more fieldwalking and excavation by NAA in 2014 discovered a further 6291 worked stone artefacts. The pieces were largely located in association with groups and lines of stake holes and suggested an Early Mesolithic seasonal settlement that was occupied for short periods of time over multiple visits.
The majority of the stone tools had been produced from Wolds flints and were considered likely to have originated from the chalk cliffs of the East Yorkshire coastline or from exposures resulting from the erosion of the Wolds edge. The colour of the flint varies in shade from white to pale grey to cream. The variation in the quality of the artefacts was potentially attributed to the coarse and imperfect raw material used for their production—flints from the Wolds are suggested to be of poorer quality compared to other areas because of periglacial frost action.
The assemblage of flint contained a substantial range of objects, ranging from cores to scrapers, blades and tool fragments. A small flint nodule, along with several cores, larger flakes and trimming flakes suggest that raw flint was transported to the site or a location nearby to be worked. The tools included 57 microliths and 86 microburins or fragments thereof, both of which are characteristic of Mesolithic stone tool industries. The tools were comparable to those from the Early Mesolithic site at Deepcar, allowing us to suggest an Early Mesolithic date for Little Holtby.
The substantial assemblage of lithic material from Little Holtby has offered an excellent opportunity to further knowledge of our Mesolithic ancestors in North Yorkshire. Through examination of findspot distribution and tool typology, it has been possible to form a detailed narrative of the type and longevity of the prehistoric occupation and some of the communities who visited the site.
You can read more about the findings in our article, which discusses the site in greater detail: