4.13 Lithics Assessment

by Anne Clarke *

4.13.1 Methodology

Over 4,000 items of worked flint were recovered and recorded in the field by Christine Haughton. As part of the assessment process, the records and the material recovered were scanned to verify the Type, Sub-type and Class data fields recorded in the primary records. Few edits were required and an overall examination was undertaken to identify the temporal and object range and the range of raw materials present in the assemblage as a whole.

4.13.2 The lithic assemblage

The assemblage, which includes material from the Mesolithic, Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, was found to be broadly comparable with that recovered from both the Cooks Quarry site and from the cemetery (Powlesland, Haughton and Hanson 1986, Haughton and Powlesland forthcoming). The relative frequency of the material is lower than on the sites to the north but is nonetheless a significant group. Of the whole assemblage, flakes represent more than 50% with blades a further 20%, with more than 100 cores and core fragments. A number of discrete assemblages indicate that flint was worked on site, although the distribution of material shows a concentration within the sandy lower-lying areas than on the heavier chalky soils to the south. This distribution, which may indicate varying exploitation of the land, needs to be carefully analysed to determine to what extent it represents a true distribution rather than a function of the greater plough damage in the chalky areas (see also 6.1 The Prehistoric Landscape and 7.1.1 Prehistoric).

4.13.3 Analytical potential

The high precision of the spatial record will allow a more detailed analysis than might normally be possible on a site of this kind. Whilst the assemblage forms a valuable addition to those already collected at West Heslerton its greatest potential lies within the broader context of the Heslerton sites collectively. Here we have the opportunity to analyse an extensive spread of lithic material and associated ritual and domestic features distributed across an extensive area of landscape extending across a geomorphological boundary. Whilst a detailed analysis of the assemblage may offer little that is new, comparative and spatial analysis with the material derived from the two earlier excavations offers an exciting research opportunity. The facility to examine changing land-use patterns, temporal variation in basic source material and aspects of production, consumption and exchange should not be lost.

Fig. 4.7 Lithics by basic type

The extensive computerised database combined with the Project's GIS software offers an opportunity to examine land exploitation during the later prehistoric period in a way that is rarely possible. This objective will clearly need integrating with the prehistoric ceramics and feature analysis programs. A relatively high count of stone axe fragments may, for instance, indicate expansion during the Late Neolithic on to the relatively heavy soils at the foot of the Wolds, an area that was at least being exploited for hunting as demonstrated by a high count of arrow-heads in the assemblage.


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Last updated: Tue Dec 15 1998