Lake Flixton fossil pike

The archaeological site of Star Carr, alongside the historically recent River Hertford at Flixton near Scarborough, is well known as a Mesolithic site of international importance. Star Carr is sited on what would have been the edge of Lake Flixton, a shallow temporary post-glacial lake and seasonally occupied by Mesolithic hunter gathers.


Star Carr has been ‘worked’ by archaeolgists for a number of years, revealing a number of interesting finds during this time. Of these finds, one was a caudal bone of a pike Esox lucius, creating an interest towards other pre-history sites in England where pike have been discovered. Following a visit to Star Carr by two members of the EYRT, correspondence with Harry Kenneth Robson, one of the site archaeologists who specialises in fish, led to identifying (by literature search) two further sites where fossil pike have been identified. The oldest site appears to be the freshwater beds of the ancient Cromer Forest at West Runton in Norfolk. The forest region contained rivers and lakes and it is reckoned the fossil pike found there date back some half million years!

The now lost (to time and coastal erosion) Skipsea Mere, on the coast of East Yorkshire, was also home to pike in ancient times; ‘In a 6 inch (15 cm) brown sandy/silt layer were found….and fins of pike (Esox lucius).’ Further to this, for another site,  ‘pike bones were found in association with harpoon heads that perhaps ancestors, who lived during a period starting some 9500 years BC, hunted pike’. So despite past stories that pike were imported into England during the middle ages, the fossil records say other wise and the Star Carr find is significant in this respect.

Recently, a gadid (cod family) abdominal vertebra bone was found after the Trust visit, not archaeological as it was found in the upper layers of the excavation site. Hopes that it might have originally belonged to a burbot, Lota lota (a freshwater member of the cod family) were dashed by Harry ...