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Star Carr: Life after the ice

Star Carr: Life after the ice

New exhibition exploring life 11,000 years ago open at the Yorkshire Museum.

Families and adults can explore what human life was like 11,000 years ago, a few hundred years after the last Ice Age, through an exciting and interactive new exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum, which brings together wonderful artefacts from one the most famous Mesolithic sites in the world.

Star Carr, a site of international archaeological importance, is sometimes referred to as the ‘Stonehenge of the Mesolithic’. The incredible range of finds uncovered over recent decades has deepened our understanding of how people lived and the landscape they inhabited during the Mesolithic period (Middle Stone Age). Buried beneath layers of peat, the site in North Yorkshire provides evidence of the earliest houses, a place where hunter-gatherers settled and lived by what was once a large lake in a settlement which existed at a time when Britain was still connected to Europe.

‘Star Carr: Life after the ice’ will showcase these artefacts to explore how prehistoric communities settled, created, cooked and worshipped and will tell us about the landscape they lived in. On display will be objects from the Yorkshire Museum Collection, including iconic antler headdresses, a unique, decorated stone pendant, the world’s oldest complete hunting bow and the earliest evidence of carpentry from Europe.

Adam Parker, Curator of Archaeology at the Yorkshire Museum said:

“The Star Carr collection holds some of the most rare and special objects from Mesolithic Britain and this exhibition will form the finest and most diverse display of Mesolithic items in the country.

We are delighted to be working in partnership with the University of York on this project and to have the expertise of their researchers to help us to bring the settlement of Star Carr to life for visitors of all ages.

We are excited to be displaying many of the artefacts for the very first time and hope the exhibition will challenge our thinking about how the people of the Mesolithic era lived. They were sophisticated with complex sets of beliefs and living in an area which was very different to North Yorkshire’s landscape of today.”

The objects on display in the exhibition were found during a major archaeological excavation directed by Professor Nicky Milner (University of York), Professor Chantal Conneller (Newcastle University) and Dr Barry Taylor (University of Chester). The exhibition has been part funded by the University of York through the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) Regional Innovation funding. Professor Milner said:

“It is very exciting to have these internationally important artefacts go on display, some for the first time. They are incredibly rare and I’m sure people will be fascinated to see such old objects which give us a glimpse into what life was like 11,000 years ago.”

The incredible artefacts on display will shed light on a world in which people were deeply connected to the natural environment in the face of extreme climate change after the first Ice Age. Through creative design and sensory space-making, visitors will be immersed in the Mesolithic world of Star Carr through an interactive mural and soundscape. Children will also be able to follow the story of Star Carr through the eyes of a friendly dog who lived with the people by the lake.

A wider programme of events including specialist lectures will run alongside the exhibition, with family-friendly events including weaving workshops, headdress-making and pendant-making scheduled for the Easter and summer school holidays.

‘Star Carr: Life after the ice’ opened on 22 March 2024 in the central gallery at the Yorkshire Museum and entry is included in general admission.

To book tickets in advance please visit   www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk/ . There is no separate charge from normal museum entry prices.