Investigations in 2000 - 2002

Peat deposits gathered and analysed in previous years allowed a date to be put on the site of Bouldnor Cliff. This date, whilst broad, put the site firmly in the Mesolithic period, specifically to sometime around 6,000BC.

With this background, a large scale investigation was mounted in 2000. This work brought together a team of professional diving archaeologists and volunteers on a boat moored over the site for 7 days. Divers on 'Surface Supplied Diving Equipment' (SSDE) and the more mobile 'Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus' (Scuba) divers were both employed to investigate the site below the surface; the SSDE divers could have longer on the seabed with full communications to the surface while excavating, whilst the Scuba divers were able to track the peat deposits to the east and west of the site.

Sections of the seabed were removed in specially designed trays; these were then excavated on the surface under controlled conditions. Undertaking this more detailed investigation of the deposits above the water has ensured a high recovery rate for the many worked flints.

In addition to the excavation of stratified deposits, further investigation of the underwater landscape was carried out to map the extensive peat layers which run for over a kilometre at a depth of 11m. Another task was the sampling of the remains of the Mesolithic forest which lies in the lower peat deposit; these are being subjected to dendrochronological analysis.

The 2002 season targeted three sites for further work. Two lay to the west of the 'main' Bouldnor site and one to the east. They all exhibited the features of three peat horizons, a vertical profile and surfaces suitable for monitoring. The easterly site was the most interesting, showing the basal peat deposits thinning out at various levels up the cliff. Further worked flints were also discovered on the land surface below the peat.

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