Blick Mead: Exploring the 'first place' in the Stonehenge landscape

Archaeological excavations at Blick Mead, Amesbury, Wiltshire 2005–2016

by David Jacques (Author) Tom Phillips (Author) Tom Lyons (Author) David Jacques (Editor)
©2018 Edited Collection XX, 240 Pages


The Stonehenge landscape is one of the most famous prehistoric places in the world, but much about its origins remains a mystery and little attention has been paid to what preceded, and thus may have influenced, its later ritual character. Now, the discovery of a uniquely long-lived Mesolithic occupation site at Blick Mead, just 2km from Stonehenge, with a detailed radio carbon date sequence ranging from the 8th to the late 5th millennium BC, is set to transform this situation.  
This book charts the story of the Blick Mead excavations, from the project’s local community-based origins to a multi-university research project using the latest cutting-edge technology to address important new questions about the origins of the Stonehenge landscape. Led by the University of Buckingham, the project continues to retain the community of Amesbury at its heart. The investigations are ongoing but due to the immense interest in, and significance of the site, this publication seeks to present the details of and thoughts on the findings to date.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • List of Contributors
  • List of Figures
  • Appendix A
  • Appendix B
  • Afterwords
  • List of Tables
  • Appendix B
  • Appendix D
  • Preface (David Jacques / Tom Phillips / Tom Lyons)
  • Summary
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter 1: Introduction: Landscape History and Project Methodology (David Jacques)
  • Previous research and the landscape history of Vespasian’s Camp
  • Previous archaeological investigation at Vespasian’s Camp
  • Vespasian’s Camp and the extent of the eighteenth-century landscaping design
  • Locating the excavation areas
  • Project methodologies
  • Project leadership
  • This report
  • Chapter 2: Fieldwork Results: The Archaeological Narrative
  • Fieldwork methodology and results (Tom Phillips / Tom Lyons / David Jacques)
  • Excavation methodologies
  • Fieldwork results
  • Synopsis of results
  • Temporality
  • Chapter 3: Environmental Setting: Geoarchaeological Investigations and Environmental Analysis (D. S. Young / C. P. Green / N. P. Branch / S. A. Elias / C. Bateson / C. R. Batchelor)
  • Geoarchaeological context
  • Aims and objectives
  • Methods
  • Geoarchaeological borehole survey
  • Archaeological samples
  • Boreholes BH25 and S2BH2
  • Results and interpretation of the lithostratigraphic descriptions, deposit modelling and radiocarbon dating
  • Higher gravel surface
  • Lower gravel surface
  • Made Ground
  • Results and interpretation of the plant macrofossil analysis
  • Archaeological samples
  • Borehole BH25
  • Results and interpretation of the insect analysis
  • Trench 19
  • Trench 22
  • Results and interpretation of the pollen analysis
  • Borehole BH25 (Site 1)
  • Borehole S2BH2 (Site 2)
  • Discussion
  • Higher Gravel Surface
  • Lower Gravel Surface
  • Palaeoenvironmental evidence from the peat
  • Conclusion
  • Charred plant remains from a tree throw in Trench 24, Blick Mead (Tom Maltas)
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Ecology and exploitation of identified taxa
  • Plant utilisation at Blick Mead
  • Chapter 4: The Lithic Material (Barry John Bishop)
  • The lithic material from excavations at Blick Mead, 2005–2013: Trenches 19, 22 and 23
  • Distribution
  • Trench 19
  • The post-basal clay horizon layers in Trench 19
  • Trench 22
  • Trench 23
  • The unworked burnt stone
  • The struck flint and worked stone
  • Description of the assemblage
  • General observations
  • Distribution
  • Morphology and technological strategies
  • Retouched and other implements
  • Classification and dating
  • The slate microlith: Coincidence or design?
  • Summary and significance of the microliths
  • Technological strategies
  • Summary and discussion
  • Interim report on the struck flint and unworked burnt flint from the Blick Mead terrace (Trench 24), 2014–2015
  • Quantification and distribution
  • Description of the assemblages
  • Discussion
  • Mesolithic stone working at Blick Mead and beyond: An overview
  • Microwear analysis of a tranchet axe and a pre-form from excavations at Blick Mead (Randolph Donahue / Keith Bradbury)
  • Portable XRF analysis of a possible slate tool (Peter Webb)
  • The cause and significance of crimson flints in springs associated with the Mesolithic settlement at Blick Mead (David M. John)
  • Blick Mead: Springs past and present
  • The cause of the red colouration of the flints
  • Ecological conditions: Springs and spring-fed habitats
  • Special significance of magenta-coloured flints
  • Chapter 5: Aurochs Hunters: The Large Animal Bones from Blick Mead (Bryony Rogers / Kurt Gron / Janet Montgomery / Darren R. Gröcke / Peter Rowley-Conwy)
  • Zooarchaeological Analysis
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Isotopic analysis
  • Strontium isotope results
  • Oxygen isotope results
  • Carbon isotope results
  • Diagenesis
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Analysing fragmentary skeletal material from Blick Mead (Sophy Charlton)
  • Materials and methods
  • Results and discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Chapter 6: Smaller Vertebrates from the Mesolithic Site of Blick Mead (Simon A. Parfitt)
  • Methods of processing and analysis of samples taken in 2014
  • Results
  • Taphonomy
  • Environmental interpretation
  • Chapter 7: Discussion (David Jacques)
  • Feasting
  • Aurochs
  • Blick Mead and the first monuments in the Mesolithic
  • After the Mesolithic
  • Animism and totemism
  • Conclusion
  • Appendices
  • Appendix A: Fieldwork (Tom Lyons / Tom Phillips / David Jacques)
  • Appendix A1: Blick Mead trench reports and field surveys
  • Trench 1/20
  • Trench 2
  • Trench 3
  • Trench 4
  • Trench 5
  • Trenches 6 and 10
  • Trench 7
  • Trench 8
  • Trench 9
  • Trench 11
  • Trench 12
  • Trench 13
  • Trench 14
  • Trench 18
  • The field site
  • The western and northern rampart walkover surveys
  • Appendix A2: Geophysical survey 2013 (Eamonn Baldwin)
  • Survey area
  • Geological background
  • Previous investigations
  • Survey objective
  • Method
  • Results
  • Appendix A3: Geophysical Survey 2009 (David Sabin / Kerry Donaldson)
  • Site location, description and survey conditions
  • Equipment configuration, data collection and survey detail
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix B: Ecofacts
  • Appendix B1: Bulk samples from Trench 19 (Simon A. Parfitt)
  • Appendix B tables
  • Appendix C: Miscellaneous Artefacts
  • Appendix C1: Copper alloy knife (Lorraine Mepham / Andrew Lawson)
  • Catalogue
  • Discussion
  • Appendix C2: Iron Age pottery (Lorraine Mepham)
  • Appendix C3: A possible Anglo-Saxon disc brooch (Jörn Schuster)
  • Catalogue
  • Discussion
  • Appendix D: Supporting Data for Lithostratigraphy, Isotope Analysis and Radiocarbon Dating
  • Appendix D1: Lithostratigraphic descriptions
  • Appendix D2: Isotopic determinations
  • Afterwords: Tony Legge and the Blick Mead Project (David Jacques)
  • Afterwords: Community: The Contribution of Volunteers from Amesbury to the Blick Mead Project (Gemma Allerton)
  • Bibliography
  • Documents
  • Bodleian Library, Oxford
  • Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Chippenham
  • Index
  • Series index

| vii →


| ix →


Figure 1.1 General site location: Blick Mead in its wider landscape setting

Figure 1.2 Vespasian’s Camp and Blick Mead, featuring sites where there have been interventions and excavations

Figure 1.3 Blick Mead Trench Location Plan, showing location of trenches mentioned in text

Figure 1.4 The natural geology in the vicinity of Blick Mead

Figure 1.5 Flitcroft Survey of Little Southam Field, Wall’s Field (and Vespasian’s Camp) and Woolson Hill, Amesbury, 1726

Figure 1.6 Charles Bridgeman’s plans for landscaping Vespasian’s Camp and Amesbury Abbey, c. 1738

Figure 1.7 Dury and Andrews’ map of Amesbury parish, 1773

Figure 1.8 Antrobus Estate survey of Amesbury Abbey lands, 1824

Figure 1.9 Mike Clarke’s drawing of Vespasian’s Camp and Blick Mead, 2005

Figure 1.10 Ordnance Survey map of Vespasian’s Camp area, 1901

Figure 1.11 A moment of discovery: Tom Phillips discovers a worked flint in a boggy Trench 19

Figure 1.12 Working on the sieves at Blick Mead

Figure 1.13 David Jacques and Malcom Guilfoyle-Pink being interviewed by the BBC’s Horizon programme in Trench 24

Figure 2.1 Trench 19 plan, showing division of layer [59] into 1 m × 1 m squares

Figure 2.2 North-east facing section through deposits in Trench 19

Figure 2.3 Section through deposits in Trench 19

Figure 2.4 South-west facing section, Trench 22

Figure 2.5 North-west facing section, Trench 22

Figure 2.6 Trench 22 during excavation, looking east

Figure 2.7 Mesolithic tool types retrieved from Trenches 19–23

Figure 2.8 Trench 23 plan

Figure 2.9 South facing section, Trench 23

Figure 2.10 Trench 23 during excavation, looking north

Figure 2.11 East facing section, Trench 23

Figure 2.12 Trench 24 plan at the end of the 2015 season of excavations

Figure 2.13 Trench 24, looking east, towards the low-lying wet areas of Blick Mead

Figure 2.14 Tree-throw hollow [111], Trench 24

Figure 3.1 Location of Blick Mead (Site 1) and Site 2

Figure 3.2 Location of the boreholes at Blick Mead (Site 1)

Figure 3.3 Surface of the Gravel

Figure 3.4 Surface of the Sand

Figure 3.5 Peat thickness

Figure 3.6 Surface of the Peat

Figure 3.7 Surface of the Alluvium

Figure 3.8 Made Ground thickness

Figure 3.9 Results of the pollen analysis of borehole BH25 (Site 1)

Figure 3.10 Results of the pollen analysis of borehole S2BH2 (Site 2) ← ix | x →

Figure 3.11 Borehole data

Figure 3.12 North-west to south-east borehole transect, from low to high ground

Figure 3.13 South-west to north-east transect across low-lying ground

Figure 4.1 Distribution of struck flint in the Basal Clay Horizon of Trench 19

Figure 4.2 Distribution of unworked burnt flint in the Basal Clay Horizon of Trench 19

Figure 4.3 Selection of large flakes and cores from Trench 19

Figure 4.4 Flint cores

Figure 4.5 Flint cores

Figure 4.6 Flint cores

Figure 4.7 Arrowhead and blades

Figure 4.8 Shape and size distribution of all complete edge retouched flakes and blades

Figure 4.9 Size distribution of all seventy microliths

Figure 4.10 Microliths

Figure 4.11 Microliths

Figure 4.12 Possible microlith made from slate

Figure 4.13 Selection of Later Mesolithic microliths

Figure 4.14 Retouched implements

Figure 4.15 Transverse Axe/Adze

Figure 4.16 Transverse Axe/Adze

Figure 4.17 Transverse Axe/Adze

Figure 4.18 Four views of the sandstone slab

Figure 4.19 Map showing the outline of Blick Mead, nearby seasonally flowing springs and watercourses and the spring-fed pool that flows into the River Avon

Figure 4.20 Colour change of the Hildenbrandia rivularis crust on flint taking place after drying

Figure 5.1 Distribution of bone fragments in Layer [59]

Figure 5.2 Butchery traces on aurochs bones from Blick Mead

Figure 5.3 Measurements of the Blick Mead aurochs astragali compared to those from Star Carr and Denmark

Figure 5.4 Measurements of the red deer astragalus and scapula from Blick Mead compared with those from Star Carr


XX, 240
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (February)
Blick Mead Stonehenge Mesolithic
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2018. XX, 240 pp., 43 coloured ill., 6 b/w ill., 62 tables, 38 fig.

Biographical notes

David Jacques (Author) Tom Phillips (Author) Tom Lyons (Author) David Jacques (Editor)

David Jacques has been the Project Director of Blick Mead, an internationally significant Mesolithic archaeological site, c. 2km from Stonehenge since 2005. Along with a number of leading specialists and community volunteers this team has discovered the oldest occupation site in the Stonehenge area and the place where the communities who built the first monuments at Stonehenge lived. These discoveries have contributed significantly to a new understanding of the initial settlement patterns and practices in the Stonehenge landscape. The Blick Mead Project is the winner of ‘Research Project of the Year 2018’ by Current Archaeology Magazine, and has been extensively reported in the national and international media.


Title: Blick Mead: Exploring the 'first place' in the Stonehenge landscape
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