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Exhibition and stamp fame for Star Carr headdresses

Posted on 16 January 2017

Mesolithic headdresses discovered in North Yorkshire by archaeologists at the University of York feature in a new set of Royal Mail stamps celebrating ancient Britain.

The headdresses of Star Carr have stirred public imagination since they were first discovered in the 1950s. In 2015, further deer frontlets were found, reigniting questions of why they were made and what this tells us about the lives of the people of Yorkshire 11,000 years ago.

The launch of the stamps coincides with a new exhibition at the Yorkshire Museum, Ritual or Disguise: The Star Carr Headdresses.

Displayed to the public for the first time, the exhibition will feature four 11,000 year old headdresses alongside new research by academics from the University of York.

It is thought the headdresses were likely masks, possibly used as a disguise in hunting, or during ritual performances by shamans when communicating with animal spirits.

The Star Carr headdress stamp, featuring the headdress found at Seamar near Scarborough, is launched in a set of eight stamps depicting intriguing sites and artefacts from UK prehistory.

Illustrated by London-based artist Rebecca Strickson, the stamps are designed as overlay illustrations, showing how people lived and worked at these sites and used the objects. Available from 17 January 2017 at 7,000 Post Office branches across the UK, a special ‘Star Carr headdress handstamp’ can also be obtained by posting mail at Seamer Post Office between 17-21 January.

Professor Nicky Milner, Lecturer in York’s Department of Archaeology and Co-Director of the excavations at Star Carr, said: "These headdresses are incredibly rare - Star Carr is the only site in Britain where they have been found and only three other examples are known from Europe.

“I am thrilled that a headdress is going to appear on a stamp. I am also very excited that some of our recently excavated examples are going on display in the Yorkshire Museum. It will give the public an opportunity to see these amazing and mysterious objects and think about how our ancestors might have used them 11,000 years ago."

Philip Parker, Stamp Strategy Manager at the Royal Mail, said: “The UK has an incredibly rich heritage of prehistoric sites and exceptional artefacts. These new stamps explore some of these treasures and give us a glimpse of everyday life in prehistoric Britain, from the culture of ancient ritual and music making to sophisticated metalworking and the building of huge hill forts.”

Further information:

  • Ritual or Disguise: The Star Carr Headdresses opens from January 17 at the Yorkshire Museum. For more information, visit:
  • The Royal Mail special collection of eight ‘Ancient Britain’ stamps feature: the Drumbest horns (Northern Ireland); Battersea shield; the Star Carr headdress; Skara Brae village (Orkney Islands), Grime’s Graves flint mines; Avebury stone circles; the Mold Cape (Wales); Maiden Castle hill fort and the Star Carr headdress. They are available from 17 January 2017 at 7000 Post Office branches across the UK and at

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