3.7 Conflict

No evidence for conflict currently appears within the archaeological record of Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Scotland. However, violence appears to have been a relatively common feature of Early Holocene societies across Europe.

Embedded projectile points and fracture wounds within buried individuals recorded in Mesolithic cemetery sites such as Skateholm (Sweden), Tybrind Vig (Denmark) and Teviec (France) (Guillane and Zammit 2005) are seen as evidence of armed violence and regarded as signs of inter-group conflict (Neeley and Clark 1990, 129). These burial sites are present within areas of rich natural resources such as alongside rivers, lakes and coastal areas suggesting that such violence may have been the result of increased competition for control of these economically productive environments.

Social factors within and between groups may also have played an important role especially in the Later Mesolithic as individual and group competition may have arisen or intensified in response to demographic expansion. The relatively sudden and geographically widespread occurrence of these archaeologically recognisable weapon injuries suggest an emerging pattern of social behaviour. Indeed, the Mesolithic is often regarded as the formative period of organised warfare (Vencl 1999, 59).

In short, despite the absence of archaeological evidence for conflict in the Early Holocene of South East Scotland there is no reason to suggest that it was not an important and re-occurring part of social life within this area.