From Implement to Outcrop: a model for identifying implement source rock at outcrop

Amy Davis, Vin Davis1 and Mik Markham

1. IPG and Macau Inter University Institute, China. Email:

Cite this as: Davis, A., Davis, V. and Markham, M. 2009 From Implement to Outcrop: a model for identifying implement source rock at outcrop, Internet Archaeology 26.


Traditionally, the sourcing of prehistoric stone tools in Britain has been done most successfully by comparing the petrological and geochemical characteristics of individual stone tools with rock and debitage from known prehistoric quarry sites and stone tool production sites. However, this is a very rare occurrence because only a very small proportion of stone tools in Britain have a secure archaeological provenance, including those from prehistoric quarries or production sites. Substantial numbers of stone tools in the British archaeological record are chance finds; they lack a secure archaeological context. Through a case study of Carrock Fell and the Implement Petrology Group XXXIV, this article presents a new methodological and statistical model for assembling, analysing and interpreting fieldwork evidence, which combines petrological, geochemical portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) data, and geochemical inductively coupled plasma-atomic spectroscopy (ICP) data to establish a signature for 17 gabbroic prehistoric stone implements (Table 1). These results are then compared with similar data gathered from rocks at outcrop. Through qualitative and quantitative analysis, seven gabbroic implements could be securely provenanced to rock from particular outcrop locations. The model is transferable to other similar contexts where sources of implement rock are sought from apparently random distributions of stone tools.

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