AN ancient pendant, discovered by archaeologists from the University of York has gone on display in the city.

The engraved shale pendant is believed to be 11,000 years old, and was discovered during excavations at the Early Mesolithic site at Star Carr, near Scarborough, by researchers from the universities of York, Manchester and Chester, and thought to be the earliest known Mesolithic art in Britain.

Crafted from a single piece of shale, the three-millimetre thick artefact measures 31mm by 35mm and contains a series of lines which archaeologists believe may represent a tree, a map, a leaf or possibly tally marks, and is the first of its kind to be found in Britain.

Professor Nicky Milner, of the Department of Archaeology at York, led the research and said: "It was incredibly exciting to discover such a rare object. It is unlike anything we have found in Britain from this period. We can only imagine who owned it, how they wore it and what the engravings actually meant to them.

"One possibility is that the pendant belonged to a shaman - headdresses made out of red deer antlers found nearby in earlier excavations are thought to have been worn by shamans. We can only guess what the engravings mean but engraved amber pendants found in Denmark have been interpreted as amulets used for spiritual personal protection."

The pendant is now (SAT), on display to the public for the first time at the Yorkshire Museum in York until May 5.

Natalie McCaul, curator of archaeology at the museum, said: "Its remarkable discovery changes the way we think about our ancestors who lived in Yorkshire 11,000 years ago and the rituals, beliefs and cultural values that were part of their lives."