Introduction

The area of The Carrs Wetland Project is rich in natural and cultural heritage.

Located at the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering, ‘The Carrs’ occupy land which was drained extensively for farming from the 1800s. Before that they were largely marshes and boggy wooded areas with a long history of human activity dating back to the Stone Age. Ten thousand years ago a string of wetland areas occupied the low lying floodplain of the Hertford and Derwent Rivers. The most renowned of these marshy areas was Lake Flixton, a focus of activity for Mesolithic hunter-gatherers.

Star Carr, near Seamer was recently declared to be the site of Britain’s oldest house or dwelling, where evidence has been recovered by archaeologists for a Mesolithic settlement on the shore of Lake Flixton. Today the deep peat soils are all that remains of this ancient wetland landscape and form an archive of the past environments, lying beneath modern day fields separated by drainage ditches. The peat is evident in the sides of the ditches when they are cleaned out to keep them flowing, or in the dark colour of ploughed fields – giving rise to the local term ‘Black Land’. Unique artefacts, preserved in the waterlogged ground for thousands of years are under threat as the land drainage causes the peat to dry out and shrink.

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