Chert occurs throughout Scotland and is particularly common in the Southern Uplands. This material not only forms a major component of inland Mesolithic assemblages across both the Scottish Borders and South West Scotland (Mulholland 1970; Affleck 1986; Finlayson 1990b; Saville 1994; Warren 2005) but also appears within Mesolithic coastal assemblages along the Forth (Robertson et al 2013; Saville 2008; Engl 2012, Engl and Gooder 2021).

‘Southern Uplands’ type chert is mostly derived from greywacke and is often fine grained and ‘flint-like’ in form. The material comes in a wide range of colour variations ranging from the common blue-grey form to grey-green, brown and dark purple (Ballin and Johnson 2005).

Four smaller and one larger round chert pounders on a bed of lithics on display at a museum.
Chert pounders and lithics from Burnetland © Tam Ward

Similar fine-grained cherts can also be found in all Carboniferous limestones (Hind 1998, 1) and are therefore present throughout the Lothians as small nodules within till deposits. A further prominent source of chert is Chapel Point at Dunbar, East Lothian (Wickham-Jones and Collins 1978, 14). There is evidence in southern Scotland that cherts were obtained from both primary and derived sources (Saville 1994, 59), with quarry sites comprised of intercutting scoops being identified at Burnetland (Ward Flint Hill, Kilrubie Hill and Wide Hope Shank within the Upper Tweed Valley (Warren 2001 and 2007, 146). These sites, though currently poorly understood, do provide evidence of on-site blade production. Therefore, based on technological association the sites are thought to be Late Mesolithic or Early Neolithic in date.

photograph of the coast of a stone beach
Stone beach at Chapel Point © Oliver Dixon (CC BY-SA 2.0)