Prehistoric Coastal Experience

Prehistoric Coastal Experience

  • Prerequisite:None
  • Duration:9 Months
  • Cost:£1900

Experimental Archeology Programme

Experimental Archaeology is a field of study which generates and tests archaeological hypotheses. This is achieved by replicating archaeological equipment, or performing tasks that ancient cultures may have undertaken. We aim to bridge the gap between academic theories and the practical lives of those we study and whose methods we replicate.

The students, alongside the instructors, will take a project based on a particular time period and culture as its central theme and fully immerse themselves within the learning of this. The intention is that through focussing on one particular project, primitive survival skills together with naturalist skills will be strengthened and enhanced as part of the natural progression of the course.

This course will see the students commit to the practical aspects of study, the reward being a group field trip to a remote location in Scotland where all the learning will be applied in the field.

Our project for 2014 – 2015 is the Prehistoric Coastal Experience.

The Prehistoric Coastal Experience.

Our project for 2014-2015 will focus on Mesolithic coastal life.

If we are to emulate and understand our pre-farming, hunter-gatherer-fisher prehistoric ancestors, we must return to the Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) and Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) of Europe. On this course we will look at the archaeological evidence from those ancient times, together with ethnographic and historic examples from a wider geographical area. Using these sources of evidence we will replicate and use our forebear’s prehistoric technologies. Participants will gain a broad knowledge of coastal environments together with a wide range of ancient skills including; stone work, bone work, as well as the construction of a variety of Mesolithic type fishing gear and boats. The students will be guided through this period of prehistory and its archaeology, and Native Awareness are fortunate enough to be joined throughout this project by Dr Peter Groom, an experimental archaeologist and environmentalist who is an expert on the lives of Mesolithic coastal hunter-gatherer-fishers.

As the course progresses, the students will study archaeological artefacts, coastal habitats both past and present, the identification of species, and of course the study of tribal people who relied upon the sea for their food sources.

Further details of the skills studied are included below in the course layout, and the course culminates in a fieldtrip to a remote location in Scotland where we will test our equipment, our foraging and cooking skills, archaeological theories, and our understanding of Mesolithic coastal groups and their lifestyles. 

Some of the skills covered

Introduction And Coastal Familiarisation

Date 3-5 0ctober 2014 Wales

  • Habitat Study Mesolithic/present
  • Species identification 
  • Introduction to Mesolithic/primitive foraging and fishing
  • Modern foraging and fishing techniques

Stone Tools 

Date 8-9 November 2014 Worcestershire

  • Percussion knapping
  • Drills
  • Scrapers
  • Burins
  • Grinding

Fishing Gear Part 1

Date 16-18 January 2015 Worcestershire

  • Mesolithic Fish hook manufacture
  • Nasal bone
  • Gorge
  • J shaped
  • Thorn
  • Lure manufacture
  • Feather
  • Shell
  • Fly
  • Etc

Fishing Gear Part 2 

Date 20-22 February 2015 Worcestershire

  • Construction of Mesolithic style basketry traps
  • Weirs 
  • Study film archive

Fishing Gear Part 3

Date 20-22 March 2015 Worcestershire

  • Manufacture of Mesolithic style spear, leister, bows arrows 
  • Antler/ bone preparation and reduction.

Mesolithic Boats

Date 17-19 April 2015 Worcestershire

  • Archaelogical examples
  • Hide preparation 
  • Skin boat building 
  • Paddle manufacture 

Mesolithic Nets and Lines 

Date 22-24 May 2015 Worcestershire

  • Harvest and process plant fibres
  • Drop spindle (manufacture and use)
  • Spinning hook (manufacture and use)
  • Braiding lines
  • Preservation of fish lines/nets
  • Main lines
  • Leaders
  • Net (manufacture and use)

The Mesolithic Coastal Field Trip 

Date 21-27 June 2015 Scotland

  • The use of the above skills and equipment to gain an appreciation of mesolithic coastal lifestyle plus;
  • Mesolithic Midden mounds 
  • Beach foraging
  • Fish and shellfish cooking
  • Fish and shellfish preserving

*Accommodation is included within the course fee and this may involve camping. The programme is self-catered although tea and coffee are of course provided. Travel costs are not covered.

To Apply

Please fill out the standard application form as well as completing a short letter outlining your reasons for wanting to take the class. Within this letter please remark on what brought you to want to learn these skills. We ask for a deposit of £400 before the course starts in October 2014 and we can arrange for the remainder of the course fee to be paid in instalments during the course.We advise to book early to avoid disappointment, as we keep class numbers  low so our students receive the fullest learning experience possible.