Digs and Finds on The Heath (1) - HAMPSTEAD HEATH - 2016***

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Digs and Finds on The Heath (1)

ARCHAEOLOGY of Hampstead and area.

There is quite a lot of work that has been done in discovering and detailing the archaeology of the Hampstead Heath area and the visitor will find references throughout this website.

The author will describe just an outline of the subject and any detailed enquiries can be taken up with those more qualified to describe the subject, such as The Hendon and District Archaeological Society (HADAS)

The earliest settlers were Mesolithic forest hunters who settled here about 9000 years ago.

Their campsites on West Heath were excavated between 1976 and 1981 by HADAS.

These sites are to the north and east of The Leg of Mutton Pond and these sites date back 7000 years.

Dryland sites are rare, however, and the extensive site at West Heath, Hampstead is an example of human activity away from the floodplain using the higher, forested ground.

For many centuries the area remained heavily forested, with fertile land drained by the Fleet, Tyburn and Westbourne rivers, and other streams.

Meso-Lithic means Middle-Stone, and stone is used as the chief resource for many of their artefacts.

They chose different types of stone for specific purposes.

Don Cooper, chairman of HADAS writes to the  author as follows:

"West Heath was first discovered in 1973 when a member of the Hendon and District Archaeological Society (HADAS) collected a number of flint blades from a sandstone bluff near the Leg of Mutton pond on Hampstead Heath.

Continued collection revealed a potentially important Mesolithic site which was undergoing erosion prompting excavation by HADAS in 1976.


The excavation took place on two sites - the 'main' site and the spring (spa) site. The 'main' site yielded a large assemblage of flint tools and debitage, some non-flint material and possible surface features of early Mesolithic date.

The acid nature of the sandy soil prevented the preservation of organic remains other than charcoal and, for this reason, the
spa site was opened up in a waterlogged area 300 metres to the south-east with the aim of recovering palaeo-environmental data.

The spa site yielded important sequences of insects, pollen and macroscopic plant remains, but unfortunately no artefacts. Another excavation on the site remains to be published."

The Mesolithic people lived in temporary shelters and hunted, fished and gathered plants.

Their tools were made from natural materials, such as stone, bone and wood and some of these are on display at Burgh House.

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