Celtic art, £8.99
Length: 18.000 cm
Height: 15.000 cm
Presented by Professor J.G.D. Clark
P&EE 1953 2-8 1
Room 51: Europe 10,000-800 BC
Red deer antler head-dress
Early Mesolithic, about 9,500 years old
From Star Carr, Vale of Pickering, North Yorkshire, England
Perforated part skull and antlers of red deer
In the early post glacial, at the beginning of the present phase of warm climate, the site of Star Carr was situated on the edge of a lake surrounded by open woods of birch and pine trees. During the excavation of the site, twenty-one adult red deer skull parts with antlers were found. All had holes made through the back of them. As in this example, the lines of cut marks made by flint tools show that the skin was deliberately removed from the skulls. The bones forming the top of the nose were then broken off and the edges of the remaining skull part trimmed. The antlers were also broken off and the remaining stumps thinned down and trimmed around the base. The two holes in the back of the skull were made by cutting and scraping away bone on both sides.
These worked antlers are thought to be head-dresses. The holes would have been used to tie them to the head with a leather thong.They may have been worn by hunters as a disguise, but it is more likely that they were part of a costume worn on special occasions, perhaps during religious ceremonies.
G. Smith, Late Stone Age hunters of the (London, Routledge, 1992)
J.G.D. Clark, Excavations at Star Carr, an e (Cambridge University Press, 1954)
A.J. Legg and P.A. Rowley-Conwy, Star Carr revisited (Centre for Extra-Mural Studies, Birkbeck College, University of London, 1988)