ID: TXA03380 / Tony Millatt

TitleFinds in the Mud
Abstract2017 was an exciting year along the Mersea shore. In 2016, CITiZAN (Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeology Network) visited the island and looked more deeply into some things we thought we already knew about. About the same time local oystermen were making interesting finds and it became clear that there had been a lot of erosion recently. It had taken about two feet off the mud along the shore - uncovering things that have not seen the light of day for hundreds or even thousands of years.

CITiZAN were very interested in the area around East Mersea Tudor Blockhouse Fort, where new rows of stakes had appeared in the mud. They have since been dated by CITiZAN as between 1461 and 1636 AD and probably in use at the same time as the fort. As they note, the Blockhouse Fort earthworks have been steadily eroding and may go completely in the not too distant future.

Mersea oysterman Daniel French was dredging off Coopers Beach, East Mersea and made some exciting finds in the mud. A skull proved to be Iron Age, dating 290 to 350 BC. Wooden planks also found there seemed to form a board walk across the mud. They were recovered and have now been dated to 952 - 860 BC, Late Bronze Age. Over the next two years they went through a preservation process at Mary Rose Archaeological Services in Portsmouth, funded by Historic England.

CITiZAN joined Daniel French and several other Mersea people on the mud for a weekend of low tides at the end of March 2017. The most significant find was a 6ft Mammoth Tusk - it was too big to recover, and was buried again after close examination. The Natural History Museum took samples, and December 2018 reported that the tusk was thought to be 12,000 years old.

The finds have caused a lot of interest in Mersea and in a much wider community. CITiZAN put on two well-attended talks in Mersea School in July to described the activities.

The boards completed the preservation process and returned to Mersea in May 2021.

The agreement with Historic England was that they would pay for the preservation of the boards if the Museum were going to display them. It was decided a large hole in the floor was the way to do it, with lighting and glass over the top. Yes, you can walk on it. A significant amount of money was needed, not helped by Coronavirus which pushed up some of the prices, but the Museum was very generously supported by local organisations, members, supporters, and a kind builder who decided he would not bill us for the work.

The boards are now on display in the Museum.

A reconstruction of the Iron Age skull - from BBC Countryfile Winter Diaries February 2017

  

Daniel French on Anglia News

Timbers found in mud at East Mersea

Timbers of the boardwalk awaiting rescue. Photo from CITiZAN

  

The CITiZAN team gently lifting timber 2. Photo from CITiZAN

Washing timber 4 before sending off for dating and preservation - photo from CITiZAN

  

Wrapping timber 3 before being sent off for analysis. Photo from CITiZAN.

The stakes that have appeared to the east of the Blockhouse Fort at East Mersea. Some are over 1 metre high. Photo from CITiZAN

  

Stakes in mud near East Mersea Blockhouse Fort Nov 2017

A well defined path is now visible, out to the other stakes. Photograph taken 28 November 2017 by Robin Webster.

Mammoth Tusk left to rest in mud at East Mersea

The Mammoth Tusk - left to rest in the mud. Thought to be 12,000 years old.

  

Boardwalk timber ready for preservation tank

July 2018 the first board walk timber ready to go into the preservation tank in Portsmouth.

The Boards return to Mersea

May 2021 the Boards have returned to Mersea, ready for unpacking.

  

May 2021 before the glass was fitted

31 May 2022 before the glass was fitted. The boards are oak, just under 8 feet or 2.5 metres long.

To find out more

Bronze Age board walk - trackway across the foreshore

Bronze Age Mersea by Oliver Hutchinson

View 3D models of structures found at Mersea

AuthorTony Millatt
SourceMersea Museum
IDTXA03380
Related Images:
 Rare 6ft mammoth tusk discovered off the coast of Mersea Island.
 Discovered by volunteers of Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (Citizan) on a very low tide. Other discoveries have been made this year - it is thought that 2 feet of mud have been taken away by erosion along this shore. The find was off Coopers Beach.
</p><p>
Mammoths roamed the Earth more than 100,000 years ago and most populations of the ancient animal were wiped out by the most recent Ice Age.
They were roughly around the size of African elephants, weighed around six tonnes and were up to 10 feet tall.
 
Rings contained within mammoth tusks can help researchers to discover how old they are, something Citizan volunteers in London will be doing over the next few months.
</p><p>
Photograph from CITiZAN.  CZN_001
ImageID:   CZN_001
Title: Rare 6ft mammoth tusk discovered off the coast of Mersea Island.
Discovered by volunteers of Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (Citizan) on a very low tide. Other discoveries have been made this year - it is thought that 2 feet of mud have been taken away by erosion along this shore. The find was off Coopers Beach.

Mammoths roamed the Earth more than 100,000 years ago and most populations of the ancient animal were wiped out by the most recent Ice Age. They were roughly around the size of African elephants, weighed around six tonnes and were up to 10 feet tall.
Rings contained within mammoth tusks can help researchers to discover how old they are, something Citizan volunteers in London will be doing over the next few months.

Photograph from CITiZAN.

Date:30 March 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / CITiZAN
 Rare 6ft mammoth tusk discovered off the coast of Mersea Island.
 Discovered by volunteers of Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (Citizan) on a very low tide. Other discoveries have been made this year - it is thought that 2 feet of mud have been taken away by erosion along this shore. The find was off Coopers Beach.
</p><p>
Mammoths roamed the Earth more than 100,000 years ago and most populations of the ancient animal were wiped out by the most recent Ice Age.
They were roughly around the size of African elephants, weighed around six tonnes and were up to 10 feet tall.
 
Rings contained within mammoth tusks can help researchers to discover how old they are, something Citizan volunteers in London will be doing over the next few months.
</p><p>The Natural History Museum took samples from the tusk and December 2018 reported that the tusk was thought to be 12,000 years old.
</p>  CZN_007
ImageID:   CZN_007
Title: Rare 6ft mammoth tusk discovered off the coast of Mersea Island.
Discovered by volunteers of Coastal and Intertidal Zone Archaeological Network (Citizan) on a very low tide. Other discoveries have been made this year - it is thought that 2 feet of mud have been taken away by erosion along this shore. The find was off Coopers Beach.

Mammoths roamed the Earth more than 100,000 years ago and most populations of the ancient animal were wiped out by the most recent Ice Age. They were roughly around the size of African elephants, weighed around six tonnes and were up to 10 feet tall.
Rings contained within mammoth tusks can help researchers to discover how old they are, something Citizan volunteers in London will be doing over the next few months.

The Natural History Museum took samples from the tusk and December 2018 reported that the tusk was thought to be 12,000 years old.

Date:31 March 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / James Pullen
 CITiZAN volunteers waiting for the tide. Coopers Beach.
 Front row Carol Wyatt, Mark Dixon, Oliver Hutchinson, ?  CZN_TBR_101
ImageID:   CZN_TBR_101
Title: CITiZAN volunteers waiting for the tide. Coopers Beach.
Front row Carol Wyatt, Mark Dixon, Oliver Hutchinson, ?
Date:cMarch 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / CITiZAN
 Pathway and stakes below the beach near East Mersea Blockhouse Fort. The stakes have been appearing over the past 2 years as the mud has eroded. It is not yet clear what they were for - they have been dated by CITiZAN between 1461 and 1636 AD which suggests they were in use the same time as the Blockhouse Fort.
</p><p>Grid Location of photograph is TM0725915248.  IA01_691
ImageID:   IA01_691
Title: Pathway and stakes below the beach near East Mersea Blockhouse Fort. The stakes have been appearing over the past 2 years as the mud has eroded. It is not yet clear what they were for - they have been dated by CITiZAN between 1461 and 1636 AD which suggests they were in use the same time as the Blockhouse Fort.

Grid Location of photograph is TM0725915248.

Date:28 November 2017
Source:Mersea Museum / Robin Webster
 Aerial survey of the area around the fort at East Mersea.
The red arrows on the shore point to rows of stakes - origin not yet known. Fish traps or fish weirs ?
 Copyright James Pullen  JPL_001
ImageID:   JPL_001
Title: Aerial survey of the area around the fort at East Mersea. The red arrows on the shore point to rows of stakes - origin not yet known. Fish traps or fish weirs ?
Copyright James Pullen
Date:2014
Source:Mersea Museum / James Pullen
 Survey map of area around the fort at East Mersea. 
 Copyright James Pullen  JPL_003
ImageID:   JPL_003
Title: Survey map of area around the fort at East Mersea.
Copyright James Pullen
Date:2014
Source:Mersea Museum / James Pullen
 BBC Countryfile Winter Diaries on 15 Feb 2017 featured the Citizan project and recent finds on the mud off Mersea Island. This screenshot shows a skull, found by local oysterman Daniel French when out dredging. It is an Iron Age skull, dated to 290 to 350 BC.
</p>
<p>The screenshot is from a 3D model built of the skull - available online at <a href=https://sketchfab.com/search?q=mersea target=SKF>View 3D models of structures found at Mersea</a>
</p>

Video of the full item from Countryfile can be played inside the Museum - ID VV010611.
</notonweb>
<p>Citizan works with volunteers to record finds and changes around our coast - for more see <a href=http://www.citizan.org.uk target=cit>www.citizan.org.uk</a>.
</p>  VV010611_003
ImageID:   VV010611_003
Title: BBC Countryfile Winter Diaries on 15 Feb 2017 featured the Citizan project and recent finds on the mud off Mersea Island. This screenshot shows a skull, found by local oysterman Daniel French when out dredging. It is an Iron Age skull, dated to 290 to 350 BC.

The screenshot is from a 3D model built of the skull - available online at View 3D models of structures found at Mersea

Video of the full item from Countryfile can be played inside the Museum - ID VV010611.

Citizan works with volunteers to record finds and changes around our coast - for more see www.citizan.org.uk.

Date:15 February 2017
Source:Mersea Museum
 Mersea oysterman Daniel French speaking on Anglia TV News, 15 February 2017. Daniel found timbers in the mud off Coopers Beach, East Mersea. They are believed to be part of a Bronze Age walkway across the marshes. A little while earlier, Daniel found a skull that has been dated to the Iron Age 290 - 350 BC. 
</p><p>
Daniel has been working with members of the Citizan Project to rescue and preserve these important finds. Citizan works with volunteers to record finds and changes around our coast - for more see <a href=http://www.citizan.org.uk target=cit>www.citizan.org.uk</a>.
</p>
</p>

Video of the full item from Countryfile can be played inside the Museum - ID VV010612.
</notonweb>
<p>The timbers from the board walk are going through a preservation process and when complete, it is planned to have them on display in Mersea Museum, under a glass panel in the Museum floor.
</p>  VV010612_003
ImageID:   VV010612_003
Title: Mersea oysterman Daniel French speaking on Anglia TV News, 15 February 2017. Daniel found timbers in the mud off Coopers Beach, East Mersea. They are believed to be part of a Bronze Age walkway across the marshes. A little while earlier, Daniel found a skull that has been dated to the Iron Age 290 - 350 BC.

Daniel has been working with members of the Citizan Project to rescue and preserve these important finds. Citizan works with volunteers to record finds and changes around our coast - for more see www.citizan.org.uk.

Video of the full item from Countryfile can be played inside the Museum - ID VV010612.

The timbers from the board walk are going through a preservation process and when complete, it is planned to have them on display in Mersea Museum, under a glass panel in the Museum floor.

Date:15 February 2017
Source:Mersea Museum