Stone tools and butchering

 Skaill knives are simple flake tools made from sandstone cobbles. They are commonly found in middens associated with settlements of the Late Neolithic  in Orkney. Wear traces are often visible on these tools indicating that they had been used prior to deposition.  Given the perceived ‘softness’ or fragility of the sandstone the question arose as to what exactly these stone flakes had been used for and an experimental programme was designed to investigate the potential of the Skaill knife as a butchering tool.

These flake tools were made by me and given to a professional butcher to use in his work. The subsequent edge damage on the tools was measured and correlated with the types of job the flakes had been used for. Verdict – competent butchery tools giving the sausages an extra crunch.

For more information read:

Clarke, A 1989 ‘The Skaill knife as a butchery tool’, Lithics 10, 16-27

Clarke, A 2006 Stone Tools and thePrehistory of the Northern Isles, BAR 406

Experimental Archaeology

A project in experimental archaeology, Avasjo, Sweden

This involved a week in Lapland partaking of activities appropriate to a hunter/ gatherer lifestyle: setting camp, making and using stone and bone tools, skinning and butchering a reindeer, cooking and preserving meat, preparing hides, making cooking pits, walking in the wildwood.

A film of this experience can now be found on youtube: