The worked quartz vein at Cnoc Dubh, Uig parish, Isle of Lewis, Western Isles: presentation and discussion of a small prehistoric quarry

Author: Torben Bjarke Ballin

Summary: In 2002, an examination was carried out of a small quartz vein at the knoll of Cnoc Dubh, a few hundred metres from the southern shores of Loch Ceann Hulabhig on the Isle of Lewis (NGR: NB 2318 2998). The vein proved to have been worked in prehistoric time, defining it as a quarry, and it was measured, photographed and characterized. In the present paper, the Cnoc Dubh quartz quarry is presented in detail, to allow comparison with other lithic quarries, and it is attempted to define attributes diagnostic of prehistoric exploitation, and to schematically describe the 'mining operations' by which the quartz was procured. As part of this process,quartz quarrying is compared to the procurement of other lithic and stone raw materials, mainly drawing on research from Scandinavia, Australia and the USA, and the location of quartz quarries in relation to prehistoric settlements is discussed. The average distance between quartz sources and Neolithic–Bronze Age sites on Lewis is then used to discuss ownership of, and access to, prehistoric quartz sources, as well as the possible exchange of quartz.

Keywords: Lithics, Pottery, Quarry

Periods: Prehistoric, Iron Age, Bronze Age, Neolithic

Location: Western Isles, Scotland, UK

Published: 01-01-2004