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Merseyside History.  Mesolithic and Neolithic settlers.

Deer Footprints on Formby Beach 2004

Formby Point

THERE IS evidence that our distant ancestors of -8050 BC, Mesolithic man, was in the area of the Flyde and Little Crosby. Items such as tools and weapons have been found in these areas and footprints in the mud, which were semi-fossilised, and slowly eroded by the action of the sea. First spotted in the 70's it appears that the footprints and animal tracks are now only being uncovered by the action of the sea on the coastlines of Southport and Formby. The footprints imply that the settlers who lived in the area followed the game wherever it roamed killing and eating the game as and when required. There is evidence of the large bovine Auroch living in the area, but since the creature is now extinct, it's reasonable to assume that the people of the area probably killed it off and then started the process of cultivating cereal grains. From pollen and seed records in the area we can determine that there was widespread burning of grass and trees to clear the ground for planting. This would have happened around -3550 BC just as man was changing to the Neolithic period, which is dominated by farming. Other animals probably in the area were Red Deer, Roe Deer, and various birds including the Oystercatcher and Common Crane. There are tracks from dogs and wolf as well as wild cattle, sheep and goats. The area would have been fairly wild and inhospitable place, with swampy fenland, peat bogs and salt marshes, with copses of trees on the higher less waterlogged ground. The sea level has again returned to what it would have been then, hence why the fossilised tracks are now being found. 

Nearly 200 of the tracks have been found to date, and they show a wide range of height and weight, male and female, even some with diseases and conditions such as arthritis and bursitis. Average height of the men appears to be 5' 5" and the women would be 4' 9".

Other relics of the time are fossilized oak stumps from around Leasowe, dated from around 1740BC. Also discovered in the area was a Mesolithic tomb made from sandstone and older than Stonehenge. Some of the sandstone blocks were carved with cups and spirals the only examples of this type of carving anywhere in Britain. It was discovered in 1765 when a farmer uncovered them in his field and dug into it for building materials, at this time he uncovered several urns some of which contained ash. 40 years later the tomb was mostly demolished and used again for building materials, for houses in the area, and it is said that some of the workmen left with wheelbarrows full of bone and ash which they then used for fertiliser. These stones are now known as the Calder Stones and are kept in the greenhouse in the park of the same name.

Bronze age finds have been found as well, ranging from arrowheads to axes and some spearheads as well. These have been dated from around 1800BC to 550BC. Also from this period there was found eight urns which contained ash and bone and in one of them the skeleton of a child. These were found in some foundations, which were being dug for a house. Upon further investigation it was found that the urns were near evidence of funeral pyres and close to a line of 14 standing stones 18 inches in height and standing edge to edge.

Photographs taken by Patrick Trollope BA(Hons) LBPPA. 

Mersey Reporter and Liverpool Reporter are Trade Marks of Patrick Trollope.   Copyright Patrick Trollope 2013