Culverwell Mesolithic Site

Culverwell is situated along Portland Bill Road which leads from the village of Southwell to Portland Bill in Dorset, UK.  The Mesolithic settlement here has a main feature which is a floor made up of Limestone slabs on top of a shell midden.  This is the earliest known structural evidence for extensive use of Portland Jurassic limestone on a living site making the floor unique for this period circa 7500-8500 years old.  Other features include the remains of a low wall forming a wind break and four hearths near the eastern side of the floor.  There is a small paved area adjacent to heath 4 and a pit one metre in diameter and 1 metre deep which it is thought would have been used for cooking food by indirect heating methods.  There is also a larger-than-average sub-triangular stone which covered a stone-lined hole containing a pierced scallop shell, an axe and a round pebble “planted" on its edge into the midden material.  This is thought to be a ritual feature.

The Mesolithic site at Culverwell

Large quantities of stone tools and the debri of their production have been found, the most common tools being microliths, scrapers, knives, chopping tools, pounders and picks.  Shell  beads which have been pierced have also been found and academics estimate that it is likely that approximately 20 people lived on the site for at least 20-25 years in 4-5 stone huts, or huts of branches with turf and skin erected on the floor for drainage.