Portland Bill is the type locality for the Coastal Mesolithic industries of England. It has been proven that the Culverwell Mesolithic habitation site, which has been dated as being some 8300 years old, was occupied throughout the year. As such this is the oldest permanent habitation site in England. The Mesolithic peoples of Portland Bill were some of the first in England to establish permanent residency at one place. Before them the temporary camps of the nomadic hunter gatherers of the Upper Palaeolithic were the norm. Even in the Mesolithic the majority led a nomadic way of life.
Rarely does a complete collection of Mesolithic stone tools from a celebrated, established type sight, encompassing the full range of tools, become available.
Here we have:
- 7 Scrapers some of which are denticulated
- 2 Portland Picks, the largest 12.5cm long
- 6 Blade & Flake Cores
- 29 flake & blade tools including burins, borers, scrapers, denticulates, notched tools etc
The smaller of the two Portland Picks is made from quartzite. All the other artefacts are made from grey Portland Chert, although this grey colour is now masked by a light coloured surface patina. None of these artefacts are made from flint although flint was also used on Portland in Mesolithic times. There is no damage. Some of these artefacts have been reused at a later date with the secondary retouch cutting through the surface patina to reveal fresh surfaces. This ‘stone age recycling’ is a characteristic of the Portland Mesolithic industry.
The Mesolithic peoples of Portland had access to abundant lithic raw materials. Portland Chert was the main lithic material used in the manufacture of their tools. Quartzite was used for some of the picks. Portland Chert has a characteristic grey appearance & Mesolithic artefacts made from this chert have been found throughout Southern England. As this chert is largely confined to the Isle of Portland this is evidence that the Mesolithic peoples of Portland were involved in a bartering trade.
The Mesolithic economy of Portland was centred on the abundant seafood resource of the surrounding shores. A large shell midden is preserved at the Culverwell site. In addition to the staple diet of molluscs it is thought that edible plants & roots were dug up from the surrounding fields using Portland Picks.
44 pieces in all.