Most of the knowledge about Early Bronze Age artefacts of flint and other stone in Perth and Kinross comes from funerary contexts, although a thorough review of stray finds and lithic scatters would no doubt produce additional information. A corpus of all the funerary finds would also be useful; the examples mentioned below do not provide an exhaustive list.

The range of flaked lithic artefacts includes arrowheads and knives of flint. Most arrowheads are of the barbed-and-tanged type, such as the set of seven found in a grave at Broich Road, Crieff (MPK18471; Clarke 2013), or the set of five found at Haugh of Grandtully (MPK6035). However, one, found at Beech Hill House (MPK5042), is of a rare, hollow-based form. Like barbed-and-tanged arrowheads, hollow-based arrowheads were among the novelties that had been introduced from the Continent by Beaker users several centuries before the Early Bronze Age, but the tradition of making them persisted. While most Early Bronze Age arrowheads found in graves in Britain, where the sex of the deceased can be determined, are associated with males, the cremated remains associated with the set of five arrowheads at Haugh of Grandtully are thought to be those of a young adult female. Re-examination of the remains to check this identification is desirable.

Flint knives may be of simple form, as at Muirhall Farm (MPK3542; Stewart and Barclay 1997, illus14), but fine examples of plano-convex ‘slug’ knives are known from Sketewan (MPK5380), Loanleven (MPK2114; Russell-White et al 1992, fig 12) and North Mains barrow, burial B (MPK1358; Barclay 1983, fig 50). This last example was accompanied by a simpler form of knife. Where found accompanying cremated remains, the knives had passed through the funeral pyre.

At Haugh of Grandtully an unusual, large (86mm long), leaf-shaped, bifacially-retouched projectile head, possibly a spearhead, of flint was found in a Collared Urn, accompanying the remains of three children (Fig 39.4). It had passed through the funeral pyre.

Selection of stone artefacts from Perth and Kinross

Other Early Bronze Age flaked lithics from Perth and Kinross comprise simple flakes and blades of flint and chips of chert; a half-moon flint scraper was found in cist VII at Almondbank (MPK2064; Stewart and Barclay 1997, illus 5).

The most remarkable Early Bronze Age stone artefacts are the miniature battle-axehead and miniature pestle-shaped macehead found in two short-stone cists in Doune (McLaren 2004; Hamilton 1957; Anderson 1883). The battle-axehead (Table 1), made from quartz-rich sandstone, was associated with the remains of a male aged 5–9 and a small and a normal-sized Food Vessel. The remains have been dated to 1872–1547 cal BC (at 95.4% probability [SUERC-2869]; 3400±35 BP). The macehead, of veined quartzite, was found with the remains of a female aged 15–19 and a Food Vessel at Glenhead, Doune. Both are exceptionally rare artefacts, and they would have been prestigious, signalling the special status of the young people with whom they were buried. The question of the origin of the sandstone and quartzite has not been resolved, and it would be useful to find out whether these artefacts had been imported from elsewhere or made locally.

As for other stone artefacts, it is not known whether any stone axeheads were still in use in this part of Scotland during the Early Bronze Age. Elsewhere in Scotland there is evidence suggesting an overlap period of several centuries between the use of stone and metal axeheads.

Items of chalcedony, agate and quartz were among the grave goods found in a short-stone cist (cist 1) at Beech Hill House, Coupar Angus. These may represent locally-available materials selected for their aesthetic properties, or in some cases possibly through a belief in their special powers. This may well be the case for the burnt dimpled pebble, probably of agate, and a shattered agate pebble (Stevenson 1995, illus 10), which could have been amulets. Flakes, a scraper and a chunk of chalcedony were found along with quartz flakes in that cist.

Regarding patterns of lithic resource exploitation, there is no evidence that the calc-silicate hornfels of Creag na Caillich were still being exploited during this period, or at all after the Late Neolithic. Some flint – such as the speckled flint used to make the small blade found in Almondbank cist IX (Stewart and Barclay 1997, illus 5) – could probably have been obtained from local drift or riverine deposits. However, it remains to be seen whether the good-quality flint used for the largest and finest flint artefacts – ie plano-convex knives and the leaf-shaped projectile mentioned above – had been imported from elsewhere, as seems likely. Unfortunately, the fact that several of these items had been burnt in the funeral pyre makes it hard to comment further on the possible provenance of the flint. The chert chips found at Haugh of Grandtully (Simpson and Coles 1990, 43) could well have been obtained locally.