A glimpse of life in Argyll 10,000 years ago

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In Lochgoilhead, some 10,400 years ago, at least two people took a break from their hunt for wild game and crouched down on a gravel bar mending and making new flint microliths to slot into their wooden arrowshafts.

After a few hours, without even the need to make a camp fire, the hunters left, leaving behind the tiny remains of their work for Dr Clare Ellis from Argyll Archaeology to discover during the construction of a new housing scheme at Donich Park for Dunbritton Housing Association.

Specialist analysis of the small assemblage by Dr Torben Bjarke Ballin revealed that some of the tools had been made by a left-handed person and some by a right-handed person.

Clare said: ‘This snippet of  intimate information about two individuals from over 10,400 years ago gives us a real insight into the early prehistoric period in Scotland when Britain was still physically part of Europe, connected by Doggerland.’

Torben added: ‘At the present time, only a very small number of Scottish early Mesolithic assemblages are known, and they are all chronologically mixed to varying degrees.

‘However, this site is unique in Scotland as it represents a very short snapshot in time.’

The flint used by the hunters to make their tools would have been collected in the form of small pebbles from the local beaches but, because of the general scarcity of flint in Argyll, quartz was also used for less fine tools.

Towards the late Mesolithic, around 7,800 years ago, another band of hunters set up camp at Succoth, near Arrochar.

The excavation by Argyll Archaeology, for Dunbritton Housing Association, revealed that, in contrast to Lochgoilhead, these hunters probably revisited Succoth over a 200- to 400-year time span and largely made their tools from quartz, presumably because flint was harder to find at the end of Loch Long.

The paper can be downloaded for free at https://www.dguf.de/fileadmin/AI/ArchInf-EV_Ballin_Ellis.pdf