The prehistory of the Solway area

The Carlisle Northern Development Route forms a major new road around the western side of Carlisle, which opened to traffic in February 2012. Oxford Archaeology undertook an extensive programme of archaeological investigation along its route. This provided a glimpse into the rich history of the Carlisle area, as well as shedding important light on prehistoric hunter-gatherers and the first farming communities of the wider Solway area. Importantly, the construction works enabled a transect through the Hadrian’s Wall Roman frontier to be examined, and revealed highly significant prehistoric and early medieval sites. These included Stainton West, where a large Mesolithic hunter-gatherer camp had been founded on an island on the River Eden’s floodplain. Huts, hearths, and other features were associated with over 300,000 struck lithics and a waterlogged sequence in a palaeochannel. In the earliest Neolithic period, a large wooden platform was constructed in this channel, which was the focus for votive deposition and other activities.