Lithic Assemblages of the Upper Palaeolithic and Early Mesolithic

Artefacts and assemblages of Upper Palaeolithic date are beginning to emerge within the archaeological record of Scotland such as the possible Ahrensburgian site at Rubha Port ant Seilich, Islay (Mithen et al 2015) and the likely Hamburgian assemblage at Milltimber, Aberdeenshire (Ballin forthcoming). The Howburn site near Biggar, South Lanarkshire occupying the very southeastern edge of the study area has produced material from the later Hamburgian and Federmesser-Gruppen periods in the form of blade industries where broad blades were struck from opposed cores (Ballin et al 2018, 107).

Photograph of 14 stone lithics on a black background.
Lithics from Brownsbank and Howburn farms, including Upper Palaeolithic tanged points © HES

No early contextualized and dated Mesolithic assemblages are currently known within the Scottish archaeological record. Traditionally the period is defined on the English model equating the Early Mesolithic with the presence of broad blade technology and the later Mesolithic with narrow blade. Lithic scatters containing broad blade type material are present within the Tweed Valley at sites such as at Airhouse Farm and Craigsford Mains, Lauderdale. The latter site in particular has provided typological material such as large oblique truncations and formal ends of blade scrapers which are typical of material found within Early Mesolithic assemblages in England (Warren 2001, 56). Unfortunately, the majority of these scatters are heavily mixed with later material and the exact nature of this material remains uncertain.

Close-up of a flint find, just over 5cm large. It is numbered 1933 2506, BMA 643
Levallois-like core in Yorkshire flint from near the Overhowden Henge, Scottish Borders © Torben Ballin (Ballin 2009)