Experience life 11,000 years ago by visiting York’s Museum Gardens this summer. From 7 August, a team from the York Museums Trust and the University of York, along with experts in ancient technology and archaeology, will build a Mesolithic house.

The project, based on evidence from the Star Carr site, will use period-appropriate materials and techniques, offering visitors a glimpse into the lives of ancient people. This initiative, led by Professor Nicky Milner and Dr. Jess Bates, with experts Diederik Pomstra and Leo Wolterbeek, is funded by the National Heritage Lottery Fund.

Dr. Adam Parker, Curator of Archaeology at York Museums Trust, highlights this as an extraordinary opportunity to experience a Mesolithic build using historically accurate tools and resources. The project invites visitors to participate in hands-on activities like making matting and twine. Inside the Yorkshire Museum, the ‘Life After the Ice’ exhibition will display real tools and artefacts from Star Carr, further enriching the experience.

Professor Nicky Milner expresses excitement about replicating Britain’s oldest known structures, demonstrating the skill and ingenuity of Mesolithic people. The house will be completed by 11 August and remain until 1 September, accompanied by daily talks and demonstrations from the excavation team.

The Yorkshire Museum’s ‘Star Carr: Life After the Ice’ exhibition, which opened in March 2024, showcases life 11,000 years ago with interactive displays and artefacts from one of the most famous Mesolithic sites. Highlights include antler headdresses, a decorated stone pendant, the world’s oldest hunting bow, and early carpentry evidence.

Star Carr, dating to around 9000 BC, is renowned for its well-preserved organic artefacts, including red deer skull headdresses and barbed points. These finds offer a rare glimpse into Mesolithic life and ritual practices. More information can be found at www.starcarr.com and the University of York’s Department of Archaeology at www.york.ac.uk/archaeology.

Activities: The Mesolithic build, located in front of the Yorkshire Museum, will be open daily from 10am to 4pm. All activities are free and located in the marquee next to the Mesolithic Hut. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Creative Family Wednesdays: Star Carr Special! Wednesdays 7, 14, 21, and 28 August 10:30am – 3:30pm drop-in sessions (no booking required) Artist-led workshops inspired by the Star Carr exhibition.

Star Carr Storytelling Thursdays 15, 22, and 29 August 10:30-11:15am, 11:30am-12:15pm, 2:00-2:45pm, and 3:00-3.45pm (no booking required) Immersive storytelling sessions by Hoglet’s Theatre Company, suitable for all ages.

Star Carr Skills Weekend Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 August 10:30-4pm drop-in sessions (times advertised on the day, no booking required) Learn Mesolithic craftsmanship with expert Chris Woodland.

Into Wilderness Bushcraft Adventures Friday 30 August, Saturday 31 August, and Sunday 1 September 10:30-4pm drop-in sessions throughout the day (no booking required) Hands-on workshops led by the Into Wilderness team, exploring bushcraft skills.

Yorkshire Museum opens Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Tickets are £9.50 per adult and £4.75 per child, with concessions available. Tickets are valid for 12 months. York residents’ children are free. Access to the Museum Gardens and the Mesolithic build is free. Visit www.yorkshiremuseum.org.uk for more information.

Image Source:

  • 68 Archaeology-Starr Carr (C) Guzelian Lorne Campbell (2): Yorkshire Museum