To James B Kenworthy, a valued friend and mentor Without his willing help and encouragement this project would never have taken place.
?Late Upper Paleolithic
The large blade (left), picked up during family fieldwalking (1978-9) at Crathes, was only recently identified as being ‘definitely possible Late Upper Paleolithic’ by Torben Ballin, via Caroline Wickham-Jones (pers com).

Uncovering one of the largest Mesolithic Sites in the UK


OFARS FIELDWALKING SURVEY 2008 - 2012 Lithic evidence from five fields bordering the River Dee
The major part of the assemblage relates to the Mesolithic with diagnostic broad (top) and narrow blade (lower right) microliths together with microburins (lower left).
An Early Neolithic component is indicated by leaf-shaped arrowheads (upper). Flaked knives (lower left), and a ground and polished knife (lower right) show Later Neolithic activity.
A barbed and tanged arrowhead (right), also picked up during earlier fieldwalking at Crathes, suggests later activity in the Early Bronze Age.
Modern humans ( Homo sapiens ) arrived in Britain about 40,000 years ago, after a period (180,000 - 60,000 years ago) of severe ice-ages. The last of these, the Younger Dryas, ended about 11,700 years ago. Until recently, it was thought that evidence for human occupation of Scotland dated only to the Mesolithic period (ca. 4,000 - 8,000 BC), but more recent fieldwork has pushed this back to the Late Upper Paleolithic, going back to 12,000BC, closely following the retreating glaciers. Lithics dating to this period have now been identified from a few locations along the banks of the River Dee, including the river bank at Crathes.
This website describes the fieldwork done by OFARS along the northern river bank at Crathes, to discover the extent of the scatter, now thought to be one of the largest Mesolithic sites in the UK.
The OFARS collection also included diagnostic implements showing activity during the Neolithic. Earlier family collections indicated an Early Bronze age, and a possible Late Upper Paleolithic presence.
Microliths, originally referred to as ‘pygmy flints’, are small worked pieces used in making composite tools. Microburins are waste products resulting from the manufacture of microliths.
This continuous scatter of flints through the five fields extending 1.75 km along the north bank of the River Dee at Crathes and 250m to the north in the widest part, is one of the largest Mesolithic sites in the UK (Caroline Wickham-Jones 2016 page 50)
Acknowledgements We would like to thank Alan Saville, Caroline Wickham-Jones, Ann Pirie and many others for much appreciated encouragement and help. Many thanks also to the OFARS fieldwalkers for turning out in all weathers, especially Angela Groat during 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012, and Marlene West during 2008, and 2009. Family members Premala and Jovita joined us in 2008, 2009 and 2011. Sadly, deteriorating health prevented James from accompanying us after 2008. I must also thank Dinkar Sabnis Sr for photographing the flints and, unless labelled otherwise, the remaining photographs, and also for his interest and company on the many occasions when just the two of us trudged up and down the fields together. And lastly we would like to thank those concerned for allowing us access to the fields. Dinkar Sabnis Jr organised and put this website together. I have very much appreciated his patience and painstaking attention to detail not only regarding the website, but also his knowledge of Microsoft Excel. I
After the hunter/fisher/gatherers of the Paleolithic and the Mesolithic, the Neolithic period (ca. 4,000 - 2,500 BC saw the introduction of pottery and farming.
During the transition to metal working, flint implements were still being made in the Bronze Age (ca. 2,500 - 800BC), .
Hand-held GPS was used for recording the E and N co-ordinates of each find, and Microsoft Excel for cataloguing, recording of attributes, charting the spacial distribution of the flints (almost 10,000), and for further lithic analysis.
© Copyright 2019 Heather M Sabnis