James Brunt: Coastal Ecologies will now run from Saturday 6 July – Sunday 1 September 2024 at Scarborough Art Gallery

Birch Bark Rolls

These intriguing objects were found at Star Carr, an archaeological Stone Age site close to Scarborough. The site is very important and is world famous amongst archaeologists.

Birch trees were common in the landscape at Star Carr. These objects are made from tightly rolled birch tree bark. The exact use of these objects is a bit of a mystery. Theories range from floats for fishing nets to torches and firelighters. Some think large rolls of bark were used as containers. Bark rots easily but at Star Carr, 161 well preserved birch bark rolls were found.

Star Carr changed our view of Mesolithic people. It is famous due to the range, quantity and quality of finds preserved in the peat around the lake. Organic materials which normally rot, like wood and plants, have all been discovered, as well as stone and animal remains. Unique finds include more than 30 deer antler frontlets, possibly worn as headdresses. One of these is in the collection at Scarborough Museums and Galleries; others are at the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology in Cambridge, and the Yorkshire Museum.