I’ve been reading up (* see some sources at the bottom of the post) on the mesolithic hunter gatherers who spent some of their time on March Hill on Marsden Moor and this weekend seemed a good time to walk back up there for a mooch about.
I wasn’t planning on doing any digging, from what I gather there was enough well-intentioned disturbance in the 20s and 30s, so much so that it made for a trickier research challenge for latter day archaeologists. Best leave that to the professionals. I’m fascinated though by this hill that I can see from the front of our house, away in the distance . But not in a Close Encounters Of The Third Kind way, I haven’t started sculpting it in mashed potato or anything.
When you stand on March Hill and look around at what is now pretty much a 360º vista of moorland it’s compelling to imagine the valleys and ‘moors’ covered in a forest some 7000-5000 years ago, sheltering aurochs (wild cattle), boar, deer etc before it all transitioned to peat.
Fire pits and hearths along with countless microliths (small flint tools / scrapers / cutting blades) denote where one or more groups of hunter gatherers, over successive years, stopped on March Hill to heat and then work flint and also to cook. I’m taken by the fact that the flint was transported (partially worked) as cobbles from as far as the Lincolnshire Wolds.
My son Joe came along on the four-hour round-trip, as hunting companion, as well as our tracking hound Brodie. It wasn’t just my flight of fancy giving us these roles – we were keeping a very wary eye out for a large Ram that had been encountered by others just below the hill a couple of days previously.
At this time of year straying across a Tup can be a bit of a ‘uh-oh’ moment – they don’t budge ground (we’ve had to take some wide detours in the past) and they can charge (although I’ve never had that happen to me). Maybe not the aggressive wild boar that the March Hill Mesolithic folk would have had to contend with but still worth avoiding.
Stopping every so often along the flank (where more microliths workings have been found) and then onto the summit of the hill to look for the muscular, horned shape of a Ram was absorbing (and a bit tense) – I got a sense, of sorts, of what it must have been like to track prey across the landscape.
Below are some shots from our hike around and over March Hill – it was really cold and windy up high – but no rain (which is almost compulsory over a bank holiday weekend).
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