5. The Use of Volcanic Tuff

Volcanic tuff artefacts fall into two main categories. First, there are artefacts that are made using volcanic tuff as a simple substitute for flint or chert. This usage was widespread in lithic scatters of Late Mesolithic appearance in coastal and upland contexts (Fig. 8) and continued, albeit much more rarely, on sites with Neolithic and Bronze Age technologies (Fig. 9).

Figure 8

Figure 8: Volcanic tuff microliths, St Bees (Cherry and Cherry 1973; 1983)

Figure 9

Figure 9: Volcanic tuff worked point, Drigg (Cherry and Cherry 1985)

Secondly, there are polished stone implements and artefacts derived from their use and reworking. At one extreme are large, finely worked implements which have a sculptural quality, such as that from Low Borrowdale Ground, Corney (south-west Cumbria) (Fig. 10), often found in isolation from lithic scatters. However, at the other extreme are roughout axes, such as one from Williamson's Moss, Eskmeals, in south-west Cumbria (Fig. 11). The argument that all roughout axes found away from axe factory sites were awaiting grinding and polishing seems unconvincing. Examination of these axes for signs of work wear might be a productive exercise.

Other polished implements appear to have seen heavy use and reworking, such as a small adze from Howe Robin, Crosby Ravensworth (eastern limestone uplands), which appears to have been reworked on the butt of a larger implement (Fig. 12).

Figure 10

Figure 10: Volcanic tuff axe, Low Borrowdale Ground, Corney (Cherry 1976)

Figure 11

Figure 11: Volcanic tuff roughout axe, Williamson's Moss, Eskmeals (Cherry and Cherry 1984)

Figure 12

Figure 12: Adze, Howe Robin, Crosby Ravensworth (Fell 1987)


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