5.8 Conflict

Highland region is famous for having produced unequivocal evidence of interpersonal Neolithic violence, in the form of a flint leaf-shaped arrowhead embedded in an adult’s vertebra at Tulloch of Assery B (MHG932; Fig. 5.5) which demonstrates that the bow and arrow was used in conflict as well as for hunting. This is not the only evidence for interpersonal Neolithic conflict in the region, however; osteological research on the individuals from the three Loch Calder cairns (Tulloch of Assery A and B and Tulach an t’Sionnaich) has uncovered evidence for a chop mark to a humerus in Tulloch of Assery B that may relate to a blow to the arm with an axehead or similarly sharp weapon. Other osteological research, recently completed by Angela Boyle on the human remains from Strathglebe chamber tomb, has revealed evidence for blunt force trauma to the skull of an adult male, indicating that he had been killed by being hit on the head with a blunt instrument (Fig. 5.76). This is not the only region in Scotland where inter-personal violence occurred during the Neolithic: there is plentiful evidence from Orkney for, including blows with a macehead or similar blunt instrument, and also probably with an axe (Lawrence 2006; Crozier 2018).

Figure 5.76: Adult male skull from Strathglebe chamber tomb, showing possible blunt force trauma that, if the ID is correct, will almost certainly have been the cause of death. The blue arrows indicate the location of the possible trauma; red arrow indicates radiating fracture. ©Angela Boyle

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