A Lithics Handbook

This handbook was created for Mesolithic Deeside to help the members identify and record the stone tools collected during their fieldwalking in Aberdeenshire.

It looks at the whys and hows of recognising worked flint before providing the details of what to record.

It is illustrated throughout and available to download for free from the British Archaeological Jobs and Resources website:


Tuff, flint, and hazelnuts: Final Palaeolithic and Mesolithic occupation at Maryport, Cumbria 

Flint blades

Tuff blades

Evidence for Final Palaeolithic and Mesolithic occupation at Maryport, Cumbria was discovered during excavation of Roman occupation features by CFAArchaeology Ltd. A varied lithic assemblage was recovered including worked flint (55%) and tuff (43%), and the rest comprised a small amount of chert, chalcedony, and rhyolite. Early occupation, probably dating to the Final Palaeolithic Federmesser-Gruppen is demonstrated through different technological styles amongst the lithic assemblage. Three phases of occupations were identified from the cut features and there was a significant amount of charred hazelnut shell which gave radiocarbon dates centring around 8200 cal BC.  

This site provides the first clear evidence that tuff was exploited directly from sources in the Central Lake District, possibly as early as the Final Palaeolithic. The occupations also demonstrate intensive processing of hazelnuts centring around 8200 cal BC and lasting for 150 – 558 years. The dates and occupation span are almost identical to those derived from the Mesolithic structure at Cass ny Hawin 2 on the Isle of Man. 

Read more at: Ann Clarke and Magnus Kirby 2020 Tuff, flint, and hazelnuts: Final Palaeolithic and Mesolithic occupation at Netherhall Road, Maryport, Cumbria 

Rhyolite exploitation in the Cairngorms

Excavations At Chest of Dee, Aberdeenshire have recorded the use of rhyolite for flaked stone tools during the Mesolithic, c.8200BC. Analysis of the flaked lithics suggests that the rhyolite was exploited directly from exposures of this igneous rock. Nearby the site a stream cuts through a vein of rhyolite  – perhaps blocks of this stone were collected here and brought to the occupation beside the waterfall to work into tools.

Read more at:

Wickham-Jones, C.R., Noble, G., Fraser, S.M., Warren, G., Tipping, R., Paterson, D., Mitchell, W., Hamilton, D., Clarke, A. 2020 New Evidence for Upland Occupation in the Mesolithic of Scotland.  Proceedings Prehistoric Society, 86.

Excavation and Fieldwalking