Living amongst and with trees at Star Carr

Annual joint lecture with the Leicester Fieldworkers (in person event)
Dr Barry Taylor (University of Chester)
Rattray Lecture Theatre, University of Leicester, University Road, LE1 7RH
A willow tree over hanging water


The excavations at Star Carr have transformed our understanding of the hunter-gatherer communities who inhabited Britain during the opening centuries of the Mesolithic. Originally located on the shores of an ancient lake, the site was gradually buried beneath thick layers of peat, preserving an incredible array of artefacts made from bone, antler, and wood, as well as the remains of the plants and animals that inhabited this landscape. Using this material, archaeologists have developed rich narratives of the lives of these human communities and of the world they inhabited. In this lecture we will take a different approach and look at Star Carr from the perspective of the plant communities who lived at the site. 

Rather than seeing these in human terms, as sources of food or raw materials, we will show how the different species of plants were active beings in their own right who had settled at Star Carr centuries before the first Mesolithic communities arrived there and shaped the lives of these humans for generations after. We will also consider how such a perspective on plants in the past can help us rethink our own relationships with the botanical lives that we share our world with today.