This chapter provides a regional overview of the period 12,700–4,100 BC looking at evidence from the Upper Palaeolithic and the onset of the Holocene during the Early and Later Mesolithic.
The overview includes the periods environmental background, the history of archaeological research and an assessment of the current resource including settlement evidence and material culture. It also encompasses sites and material located on the study regions geographical periphery such as the shell middens of the Forth Valley, the Late Hamburgian site at Howburn, South Lanarkshire (Ballin et al 2018) and the Later Mesolithic house site at Howick, Northumberland (Waddington 2007).
In recent years excavations along the Forth Littoral at Cramond, Edinburgh (Lawson et al 2023), Echline Fields (Robertson et al 2013) and East Barns, near Dunbar East Lothian (Engl & Gooder 2021) have thrust the Mesolithic in the region into the limelight. These excavations produced nationally important, spectacular structural evidence associated with well stratified narrow blade lithic assemblages which have pushed the adoption of traditionally ‘later’ microlithic technology into the 9th millennium and have expanded theories about the re-colonisation of Scotland.
Similarly, Howburn Farm in neighbouring South Lanarkshire (Ballin et al 2010, Ballin et al 2018), provides evidence of some of the earliest groups known to have visited the British Isles in the late Pleistocene. This site was most probably occupied by hunters following reindeer herds across Doggerland through the Tweed Valley and therefore has great import for the study of the Upper Palaeolithic within the study region, the colonisation of early post glacial Scotland and its archaeological connections to continental Europe.
The map and table below show the key sites mentioned throughout this chapter.
|Main Periods||Sub-Periods||Date Range (BC)||Key Sites||Dating (cal BC)||Reference|
|Mesolithic||Terminal Mesolithic||5,000–4,000||Garvald Burn|
Daer Valley Site 84
Daer Reservoir 3
|Ballin and Barrowman 2015 |
|Mesolithic||Later Mesolithic||8,400–5,000||Dear Valley 2 |
Daer Reservoir 1, Scottish Borders
East Barns, East Lothian
Echline, South Queensferry
|Ward 2017 |
Engl and Gooder 2021
Robertson et al 2013
Lawson et al 2023
|Mesolithic||Early Mesolithic||9,800–8,400||Crawford Mains, Scottish Borders|
|Late Upper Palaeolithic||Ahrensburgian||10,800–9,800|
|Late Upper Palaeolithic||Federmesser-gruppen||12,000–10,800||Howburn, South Lanarkshire||Ballin et al 2018|
|Late Upper Palaeolithic||Hamburgian/Creswellian||12,700–12,000||Howburn, South Lanarkshire||Ballin et al 2018|