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The Mesolithic or Middle Stone Age refers to the period immediately following the last ice age, which ended ca. 10,000 years ago. The Mesolithic was a continuation  of the Hamburgian and Ahrensbugian cultures of the late upper Palaeolithic. In contrast to the Palaeolithic, the Mesolithic lasted for only a few thousand years coming to an end about 6000 years ago.

As the climate warmed, first plants and then animals re-colonised the post-glacial landscape; eventually much of Britain became heavily forested. Hunter-gatherers, known as the Maglemosian culture, moved into Britain across a land bridge that still linked Britain to the rest of Europe. Hunter-gatherers were originally regarded as following an essentially nomadic way of life, perhaps retreating to a base camp for the winter. They made use of caves and rock shelters but also constructed temporary shelters from withies and animal hides, which can be recognised archaeologically as arcs of small stake holes, hearths and food refuse. More recently

Mesolithic stone tool industries are sub-divided into broad-blade and narrow-blade microlithic industries.  The Maglemosian site at Star Carr is probably the most well known early Mesolithic site in Britain and was in use from 8770 BC until about 8460 BC and is associated with a broad-blade industry.  In Scotland the later narrow-blade industry predominates although sites at Morton, Fife and Lussa Bay on Jura have evidence of broad blade industry. The raw material varied, but in Caithness was usually chert, flint or quartz. Blade production involved the preparation of a core from which a number of blades could be struck. The blades were fashioned into microliths (small shaped blades), several of which could be used to form the compound tip of an arrow for example. Weapons were also manufacture from antler, long barbed points being typical of the culture.


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