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Stone Tools and the Prehistory of the Northern Isles

Ann Clarke


This volume explores the possibilities of using coarse stone assemblages from the Northern Isles of Scotland to observe aspects of social change throughout the prehistoric period. It draws together the available data on coarse stone artefacts, much of which is rather disparate, with a view to providing a standard work of reference for use to those excavators in the Northern Isles who, faced with a large coarse stone assemblage, require a descrAtion of the types of artefacts which occur as well as background information on their context and chronology. This is in part a synthesis as it combines proposals for standardised definitions of the various artefact types together with a record of occurrence. Of greater interest, however, is the use to which this information can then be put. By comparing the various artefacts with reference to their form, manufacture, use and deposition it is possible to perceive certain aspects of continuity and change within and between assemblages. This variability within the artefactual record is interpreted at a broader organisational level in order to assess the social implications that these patterns may represent. The period under investigation is from the Neolithic to the end of the Iron Age: from the beginning of the fourth millennium cal BC to 800 cal AD. The main part of this work is concerned with the Neolithic and Bronze Age, particularly the transition period between the two as, during this time, the use of stone for tools and other objects was at its peak.