6.3 The Star Carr pendant in the context of the European evidence

The Mesolithic art found so far in Britain has been created by incision, probably with a sharp piece of flint, possibly with the tip of a microlith or bladelet. Two pieces are incised on bone and antler but the majority are incised on stone, mainly pebbles. It is noteworthy that art also appears in caves in Britain, in the form of lines. The lines of the Star Carr pendant are unlike any other examples from Britain in that they appear more formally executed, with carefully patterned small lines running tangential to some of the longer lines. This is a pattern also found on examples from Denmark and perhaps strengthens the argument made for other 'Maglemosian' type artefacts, such as the amber pendant, barbed points and headdresses, recovered from Star Carr, that there was a strong connection over long distances at this time. What is particularly noteworthy is that pendants with the barbed line motif mostly have a western distribution (Toft and Brinch Petersen 2016), suggesting specific connections around the North Sea, or Doggerland region (Vang Petersen 2016).

This artefact is unique in a British context in that it can be classed as a decorated pendant due to the perforation, rather than a pebble. In this respect, it is very similar to a number of the northern European examples. Unlike those in Denmark which tend to be crafted from amber, this example stands out because it is made from shale. It is also one of the few decorated pendants that have been found within an archaeological context and not as a stray find.

In summary, this example of Mesolithic art has some similarity to other pieces from Britain in that lines have been engraved, but in fact, it is much more similar to the Danish examples in terms of the barbed line patterning and the object itself. It is the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain, dating to about 9000 BC and is therefore likely to be at least 500 years earlier than the examples from Nab Head and Aveline's Hole.