Strange crop-mark near Star Carr

Archaeological air-photography, to record long lost features in the landscape, visible as a consequence of the effects of variable stress in crops growing over archaeological features which still, after thousands of years, modify the local growing environment, can be immensely exciting. With experience the majority of crop-marks are relatively easy to classify, interpret and assign to a broad date. In 2010, while photographing the Early Mesolithic site at Star Carr, I glimpsed what appeared to be a ditched enclosure on the top of a slightly elevated square platform, c.650 metres to the south of Star Carr, on the southern edge of the prehistoric Lake Flixton.

The crop-mark image once rectified to give it a vertical viewpoint appears to show a central ditched enclosure with multiple entrances and a second smaller feature a possible palisade around the outside. Such an enclosure, whilst some thousands of years later in date than the occupation at Star Carr, could provide important insights into our understanding of Neolithic or later activity on the edge of the Lake Flixton wetlands.

Rectified crop-mark image suggesting a ditched enclosure c.60m across and a smaller feature c.100m across

The crop-mark was poorly defined and taken at a very oblique angle; it was felt a geophysical survey could provide a better picture of what lay beneath the surface of the field. The results of the survey are shown below and although impressive defy simple interpretation. It is unclear as to whether what appear to be multiple concentric ditches with a series of radiating features, are of archaeological or geological origin. One suggestion is that this relates to some sort of elaborate Duck Decoy although we can find no parallel.

Geophysical survey by James Lyall for the LRC showing concentric and radiating features of unknown nature

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