The Fire in The Flint: Arrowhead Production and Heat Treatment

Diana Coles

Department of Archaeology, University of Reading. Email:

Cite this as: Coles, D. 2009 The Fire in The Flint: Arrowhead Production and Heat Treatment, Internet Archaeology 26.


In 2004 David Clark wrote of the concentrations of arrowheads found at a number of sand dune sites in Scotland that 'at present we have no narratives that seek to explain, or even acknowledge this situation.' This paper seeks, through an exploration of the manufacturing processes involved in producing a particular arrowhead from Luce Sands, Wigtownshire, to provide some of the detail to allow the construction of a wider narrative.

While heat treatment cannot be proven to have been an integral part of the manufacturing process of fine quality flint artefacts it is undeniably true that : the process is relatively simple and does not require much expenditure of effort; it would seem probable that it would have been discovered accidentally; and it is extremely effective.

Furthermore there is, at present, no alternative explanation for the method by which obdurate pebble flint was rendered compliant enough to produce the many fine arrowheads that have been recovered from the sands. If heat treatments were being used, the flint users of Luce Sands would have had access to a source of attractive and highly workable material from which to produce highly accomplished examples of the knapper's craft.

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