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8.2.5 Technology

As indicated above, at least two technological approaches, or profiles, are represented in the assemblage. They are, to some degree, associated with different types of flint and different trenches.

Technological Profile A represents a well-developed lithic technology aiming at the production of regular, relatively delicate broad blades (of 47 unmodified and modified blades only three blanks have been classified as microblades – the average width of blades from the site is 12.4mm) (Table 77, Table 78). The blades were detached from single-platform cores (demonstrated by the curvature of the blades) with plain platforms, and as part of the core preparation one or more crests were created (see description of crested flakes/blades above). Generally, soft percussion was applied; only three blades are bipolar and one was detached using hard percussion. This profile is largely associated with finer flint varieties, such as flint of the orange group, and most Profile A material was found in the church trench. Low proportions of black&grey flint, combined with high proportions of flint of the orange group (Table 38), suggest that the sub-assemblages from the graveyard, the 1980-1, and the 1986 excavations may also predominantly belong to Profile A.

A number of single-platform flake cores are worked in hard percussion, and as they are mainly in fine flint they most probably belong to Profile A as well. These cores were distributed across all the 1994 trenches. Some classic bipolar cores (cf. Ballin 1999) in orange or yellow flint are probably associated with Profile A, and they may represent the final exhaustion of abandoned blade and flake cores.

Technological Profile B represents a much less well-controlled technology aiming at the production of crude flakes, mainly in coarser flint, such as, the black&grey variety. The flakes were detached from irregular and bipolar cores, and in the case of irregular cores, hard percussion was applied. As discussed above, it is possible that some of the irregular cores are naturally flaked pieces (ballast flint?), but the shapes of the blanks of, for example, black&grey scrapers and borers testify to the use of highly irregular cores. It is likely that bipolar technique was applied at either end of the operational schema (chaîne opératoire), firstly to 'quarter' the original nodules to make the nodule sizes suitable for hand-held hard-hammer production (cf. the large bipolar flake [382] which, for practical reasons, has been excluded from Table 80, Table 82) and secondly to exhaust the raw material of the irregular cores when they became too small to handle. Profile B material dominates West Range (Trench A, see Trench location plan) completely, but it also overlaps with West Range (Trench B), the Church, the Graveyard area and the 1980-1 excavation.

The finds from the 1986 excavation form a small group on its own. The dominance of finer flint varieties sets it apart from Profile B material, but the dominance of bipolar and hard percussion techniques (Table 41) and the lack of blades and microblades (Table 40), indicate that it may not form part of Profile A either. Apart from microlith [2369], this small sub-assemblage is likely to be of a Late Neolithic or Bronze Age date.

The two main types of flint from this site have been obtained from different sources. The abundant black&grey flint associated with Profile B generally has relatively fresh cortex, ruling out a local beach source. It is also not derived from the Buchan Ridge Gravels (Alan Saville, pers. comm.) This type of flint has frequently been labelled 'ballast flint' (e.g. Kenworthy 1982), and some of the pieces from this site may be just that, but the vast majority of the pieces are prehistoric artefacts manufactured on flint from an, as yet, unknown source. The artefacts in fine flint with abraded cortex are most probably based on local beach pebbles.


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