5. Caches

Equipotential behaviour means that discarded tools at a site remain a potential resource for future use or modification for an impending task (Preston 1999). Thus if sites were visited regularly as persistent places then these, together with exaptive tool behaviour, means sites were potential caches, or what may be termed tertiary raw material sources (primary sources being actual rock formations, secondary being river, beach pebbles or glacial drift deposits).

These caches may have accumulated passively through gradual build-up of discarded tools or purposefully by the deliberate caching of materials. Either way they therefore may have been viewed by the Mesolithic hunter-gatherers as resource nodes in the landscape (Preston 1999).

Purposeful caches or investment at a site potentially may have been seen as a sign of territorial marker. Moreover, caches not returned to (and thus found by the archaeologist) may also suggest a change in patterns of mobility.

There are several examples in the Vale of Pickering landscape, for example at Flixton School where 12 very large nodules were found in a tight cluster. At Seamer C, Scatter C, brown flint (probably from a source now under the North Sea) included three preformed (worked) box cores and two other cores – from which many blades had been knapped, some of which were retouched and some burinated. Also there was a resharpened/retooled burin. At Scatter K a dump of nodules consisted of eight cores (that were possibly exhausted), eight flawed cores, and six unmodified minimally tested nodules that seem to have been intentionally brought here and deliberately abandoned (Conneller 2005).

At Star Carr there seems to have been a cache of barbed points. Moreover, my research (Preston 1999) on the formal tools suggests that the site may have been viewed as a cache by the way the tools were reused and recycled (see Fig. 4 – opens PDF).

In the Central Pennines at Pule Bents (West Yorkshire), tools rather than cores and debitage seem to have been cached. In particular, 99 narrow blade rod microliths (with accompanying debitage) have been interpreted by Stonehouse as either a kill site used over a period of many years, or represents the loss of a bag of implements (1987; 2001) Although the former interpretation may be tenuous as there was no associated fauna, this may be due to the peaty sediments. However, this could also be viewed as a microlith cache (Spikins 2002; Stonehouse 1997).

Nearby at White Hassocks (West Yorkshire) a cache or bag of 46 scalene triangle microliths was found within an area of 2.5m² (40 within 0.25m²) (Stonehouse 1978; 2001).


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Last updated: Wed Jul 29 2009