8. Conclusions

Through integrating a broad variety of scientific and imaging techniques to study this engraved pendant, displaying the earliest recorded art in Mesolithic Britain, we have developed an in-depth understanding of its likely source, production, method of engraving, and its depositional context. Detailed insights into the phasing of the lines engraved across its surface allow us to consider the temporality and compositional planning involved in the production of the art.

A battery of scientific methods was used to detect any residues that may have been applied to enhance the engraving. This work revealed that no such residues were applied, or at least, have not survived. What it did show was that pyrite, sand and micro-organisms identified during the analyses can be attributed to the pendant's depositional context. Because of the bright sheen produced by pyrite and PDSM, use-wear analysis was unable to provide definitive evidence that it had been strung, but considering how unique and symbolic an object this is, it may only have been worn for a special occasion, leaving no detectable wear traces. This interpretation may have resonance with the possibility that the design was engraved in a short period of time, and the unusual context in which it was found. In this case, it is possible to consider the making, use and deposition of this object happening in quick succession. A further curiosity is the nick on the non-engraved surface. We have been unable to determine whether this was made intentionally but the presence of pyrite within the nick demonstrates that it happened in antiquity.

On contextualising the art on the Star Carr pendant within the broader evidence for art in Mesolithic Britain and Denmark, the latter producing the largest collection of Mesolithic art in Europe, we discovered that both the engravings - in particular the distinctive barbed lines of Clark's type C - and the choice of pendant form are closely aligned with what is known from southern Scandinavia. However, it is important to acknowledge that despite the broad spectrum of scientific analyses applied to this object, revealing new and unprecedented insights into its making, some artefacts will remain enigmatic; we can only speculate as to what the art represents, and what the production and possibly wearing and display of this object meant to the people living along this lake edge during the ninth millennium BC.