8.2.8 Perspectives

The most exciting result of the present lithic analysis is probably the discovery of a new, most likely late prehistoric, industry based on supplies of fresh, exotic chalk flint. Obviously, the Mesolithic, Neolithic and Early Bronze Age industries from Aberdeen need further attention, but, at present, the most important tasks must be to 1) date this late industry, and 2) solve the mystery of the provenance of the black&grey flint.

The date of the late prehistoric industry is of importance, as the unspecified date of 'post Early Bronze Age' encompasses not only the Later Bronze Age but also the Early Iron Age. Presently, the possibility of some British assemblages having an Early Iron Age date is hotly disputed (Young and Humphrey 1999, 240-41). Herne (1991, 73) suggests that the final abandonment of regular flint use may have occurred at different times in different regions according to the relative availability of flint and metal (also see Ballin 2010), and the possibility of the late Aberdeen industry being very late should probably be accepted, at least as a working hypothesis.

The provenance of the black&grey flint is equally important. As this flint variety is exotic to Scotland, knowing its provenance would yield information on 1) specific Scottish exchange partners in late prehistory, 2) late prehistoric exchange networks, and, not least, 3) available means of transport in late prehistoric time. Logically, it is unlikely that flint was traded into Aberdeen merely to satisfy an expedient, probably declining, lithic industry. The question is, therefore, whether the black&grey chalk flint may actually be ballast flint, albeit prehistoric ballast flint, used in the earliest boat types requiring ballast, and, secondarily, used as raw material by some of the last Scottish flint knappers?


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