The procurement and use of stone for flaked tools in prehistoric Scotland
Flaked Tools, Flint Pits, Pitchstone, Flint
Throughout prehistory a wide variety of stones have provided the raw material for the manufacture of flaked tools. In western Europe, however, the abundance of fine quality, nodular flint led to its dominance as a lithic resource with the result that modern archaeological attention in this area has concentrated upon the use of flint in prehistory, often to the exclusion of anything else. Scotland lacks any primary sources of flint nodules in situ and there is no evidence that flint was imported on any scale, although well-developed exchange networks have been documented elsewhere in Europe (Balcer 1981). A wide variety of alternative materials were available in Scotland but this traditional preoccupation with flint as a raw material has meant that, until recently, they were given little attention and Scottish assemblages were regarded as somewhat impoverished. Increasing awareness of this variety has improved the recovery by excavation of lithic assemblages and their subsequent analysis. Such analysis poses its own problems. Knapping techniques may produce different detachment characteristics upon different raw materials and the development of regional comparisons is not as straightforward as in areas where only one, homogeneous, source of flint was utilized. As techniques develop, however, the variety of methods employed to utilize lithic resources is revealed and a sophisticated pattern of exploitation throughout prehistoric Scotland is emerging.