A significant archaeological discovery made at Lunt Meadows, Sefton during habitat restoration work by the Environment Agency has confirmed the work is restoring the site to its natural habitat.
The discovery was filmed by the BBC and will be screened on BBC One (Monday 19 November, 7.30pm) for Inside Out North West, the regional current affairs programme.
The discovery was made in summer of this year during excavation work at the 70ha site alongside the River Alt where the Environment Agency has been recreating the wetland habitat to encourage a greater diversity of wildlife, improve water quality and alleviate flood risk in line with its broad remit to improve, create and protect habitats.
The archaeological find is described by Ron Cowell, Environment Agency consultant archaeologist and curator of prehistoric archaeology at Liverpool Museum as potentially of national importance and challenges what we may know about stone age man.
“This find, in archaeological terms, is quite significant and potentially of national importance. It’s by far way above in importance that I have worked with in more than 30 years of archaeology.
“We have always thought that Mesolithic man was nomadic, yet this site presents the possibility that several families may have been living together in one place. Other sites in the UK have indicated that we have been looking at the period in an over simplistic way, and Lunt Meadows provides further compelling evidence of how Mesolithic people organised their lives. It is a very significant find and a great coup for the region.”
A number of flints and material were found at the site that indicates a settlement of people with some of the material coming from afar afield as North Wales or possibly Derbyshire. However the real big discovery is three structures, dating back to around 5800BC. This has been confirmed by initial carbon date testing. Environmental evidence found on site also suggests the habitat was a wetland and confirms that the work the Environment Agency is doing, is in keeping with its objective of returning the area to a natural state that will not only benefit local wildlife, improve water quality and contribute to sustainable flood alleviation in the Lower Alt catchment but also restore floodplain habitats which will attract new species to the area.
Lindsay Ward Environment Agency Biodiversity Officer responsible for the project says: “This discovery is a bonus, but more importantly it is evidence that this site was a true wetland some 8000 years ago. This shows that all the effort of planting close to 50,000 locally sourced reeds, and developing the wetlands here is worthwhile and will fit perfectly into the landscape to be enjoyed by wildlife and people for many generations to come just as it was all those years ago.”
The Lunt Meadows project is already seeing the benefits of increased numbers and types of wildlife with whooper swans sighted on the pools and a number of other species starting to make use of the newly created habitats.
It is due to be completed in the first half of 2013 and will be managed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust who have been involved with the project since it started and whose volunteers have planted most of the reedlings.
The archaeological artefacts found on site will be catalogued and kept for safe keeping by Liverpool Museum.
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