Flint and Tuff in Prehistoric Cumbria

P.J. Cherry

Almscliffe Grange, Arthington Lane, Pool in Wharfedale, Otley, West Yorkshire, LS21 1JZ. Email: peter.cherry3@btopenworld.com

Cite this as: Cherry, P.J. 2009 Flint and Tuff in Prehistoric Cumbria, Internet Archaeology 26. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.26.3


Field surveys have revealed a substantial number of lithic scatters on the south-west Cumbrian coastal plain and the eastern limestone uplands of Cumbria. The raw materials used for toolmaking in the two areas show interesting contrasts, including predominant use of Irish Sea beach pebble flint in south-west Cumbria during the Late Mesolithic and Neolithic, with minimal importation of chalk flints from Yorkshire and (possibly) Antrim during the Neolithic.

In eastern Cumbria, raw materials in the Late Mesolithic were predominantly local cherts but with a significant element of pebble flint and chalk flint from Yorkshire. By the Neolithic, Yorkshire chalk flint had become the dominant raw material. In both locations, pebbles of fine-grained volcanic tuff akin to Group VI were being used as a substitute for flint by communities using Late Mesolithic technologies, although there is no evidence for exploitation at source during the Late Mesolithic. Thus in eastern Yorkshire, Late Mesolithic communities can be demonstrated to have been using volcanic tuff at the same time as they were obtaining flint from Yorkshire. A substantial number of flakes of volcanic tuff arising from the use or reworking of stone implements has been found in eastern Cumbria. These provide evidence for different types of stone implements in actual use.

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