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Crathes  2008 - 2012   Field-walking and Lithic Analysis   Heather M Sabnis
Short account (up to May 2014) 
METHODS Field-walking Field-walking was carried out after ploughing and after the soil had been weathered.  The soil does need to be ‘weathered’.  Heavy rain exposes the flints by washing away finer-grained material.  The flints also show up better if they are wet.  Walking a newly ploughed field may show little or no lithic material, and could give a very wrong assessment.  We know this from experience. After being introduced to the use of hand-held GPS for recording individual finds at Kinclune (initiated by JBK in 2003 at Gory Hill) we employed the same method at Crathes.  For total collection we walked 2m apart using furrows as guidelines wherever possible.  Each find was put into its own bag and the GPS co-ordinates recorded, but where finds were within 1m of each other they were put into the same bag. The different GPSs were accurate to 2-3m and correlated well. Fieldwalking in the 1980s had given us some idea of scatter locations; unsystematic walking to and from the site added to this information.  Walking at 2m apart was mainly restricted to scatter locations. Other areas were covered less intensively. Cataloguing Microsoft Excel was used for the cataloguing and recording of attributes, the scatterplots and the distribution charts. Scatterplots:  These were compiled directly from the grid references, using Excel 'Scatter Chart' to show the spread over the area covered. However, this does not give an accurate representation of numbers, as finds with the same grid reference will show as only one 'point' on the chart. Distribution charts:  These were produced by calculating the total number of flints per 10m x 10m square based on  the GPS readings and the number found at each grid referenceWe felt this gave us a good picture of the area taking into account the accuracy of the GPS and the fact that the flints were not in situ.
Although much of the material is broken/damaged, all phases of manufacture are present, from the preparation of the raw material to the production of finished tools. Cores, mostly single platform, and a variety scrapers form part of the collection. The major component is of Mesolithic technology.   Finds diagnostic of the Mesolithic include microliths and microburins, with the ‘broad blade’ (early) technology represented by large wide-based triangles and oblique points, and the ‘narrow-blade’ (later) technology by crescents and backed bladelets. Three smaller wide -based triangles may be from an intermediate stage. 
Finds categories at the different sites Finds \ Sites MC NMW NME Cores yes  yes  yes Early Meso m’liths yes  yes  yes Intermediate (?) Meso m’liths yes  yes  no Late Meso m’liths yes  yes  yes Microburins no  yes  yes Early Neo arrowheads no  yes  yes Neo flaked knives no  yes  yes Neo ground and polished knife no  yes  no Scrapers yes  yes  yes Blades yes  yes  yes Flakes yes  yes  yes Neo potsherds no  yes  yes
In general the assemblages from the different areas were very similar.  Burnt flint is present at all sites. The lack of some elements from MC may be a reflection of the smaller total number of finds when compared with NM. However, MC did differ from NM in having a larger proportion of grey flint.
AIMS OF THIS PROJECT To find the full extent and intensity of the flint scatters at Crathes. To categorise the flints for indication of industry, dating (diagnostic flints), and further analysis for various comparisons.
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The five main fields comprising the site are located in Crathes along the north bank of the River Dee (see sketch map left).  Of the three river terraces, the middle terrace, (approximate location shown by the dotted lines on the map) widens gradually towards the east becoming the river bank in NM3.
Some diagnostic microliths from the Mesolithic . . . . Early Mesolithic Wide based triangles Oblique points Late Mesolithic Backed bladelets, retouched along one edge, and crescents Early Mesolithic
Leaf-shaped arrowhead
Ground and polished flint knife
. . . . and some from the Neolithic
Flaked knife
PUBLICATIONS Discovery and Excavation Scotland, New Series 2008  Vol 9 page 16.  Nether Mills Farm, Crathes, Banchory,  Heather M Sabnis and James B Kenworthy.  (This site is now referred to as Nether Mills West) 2009  Vol 10 page 16.  Nether Mills East, Heather M Sabnis and James B Kenworthy. 2011  Vol 12, page 12.  Milton Cottage/Nether MIlls West,   Heather M Sabnis (The last paragraph of the Milton Cottage account refers to the whole site;  I hadn’t realised that the 2 different areas of  the Crathes site would be published in alphabetical order.) 2012  Vol 13 page 14. Nether MIlls West,   Heather M Sabnis A colour photo of three different wide based triangles is on the front cover.
The other component of this site is Neolithic. Our most spectacular find was a very fine Middle to Late Neolithic ground and polished knife. Other Neolithic finds include two small flaked knives, four Early Neolithic leaf-shaped arrowheads (1 almost whole, 3 broken) and 2 small Early Neolithic potsherds.
Scatterplot from MC 2011, NM 1,1A from 2008, NM 2 from 2011, and NM 3,4 from 2009 with part of Crathes sketch map superimposed.  (For scale: see sketch map above.)
MC  2011
NMW - NM 2 2008
NMW - NM 2 2011
NME - NM 3,4 2009
Number of flints / 10m x 10m square.  (Pop ups)
Approximate numbers of flints found:  2008 - 2012 Site Field(s) Year(s) Flints MC MC 2008, 2011    700 NMW NM 1, 1A 2008, 2011, 2012 3,400 NMW NM 2 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012    850 NME NM 3 2009 2,670 NME NM 4 2009 1,950
Nether Mills West (NM 1 extending into NM 2), and Nether Mills East extending well into NM 4 and NM 3. MC was less intensive and could well extend into the football pitch area to the East. James Kenworthy’s excavation was situated near the SE corner of NM 4. (See below for scatterplot with part of sketch map superimposed).
The bulk of the NM flints were found along the middle river terrace; those from MC were mostly on the higher areas along the river bank (the lower terrace).  Although the scatter was continuous there were two major intensive areas, each with possibly associated sub-sites:
In the 1970s, flint scatters along the River Dee were discovered by Dr John Grieve, leading to an excavation at Nether Mills Farm, Crathes  under J B Kenworthy, St Andrews University over four seasons from 1978-1981.  Heather Sabnis worked as a volunteer, mainly helping with the preliminary cataloguing of the flints, but also with some of the surveying and ‘trowelling’.
We would like to thank those concerned for allowing us access to the fields, and also to thank many others for much appreciated encouragement and help.
CONCLUSION Using hand-held GPS co-ordinates for individual flints to produce the ‘Scatterplot’ and ‘Number of flints / 10m x 10m square’ charts has demonstrated the spread and intensity of this very extensive flint scatter along  ~1.75Km of the north bank of the River Dee at Crathes. Diagnostic artefacts indicate Early and Late Mesolithic, and Early and Later Neolithic activity in this area.
REFERENCE 1981  J B Kenworthy,  Nethermills Farm, Crathes,  Excavations 1978-80,  Interim Report. Privately circulated. (This excavation was located in the site now referred to as Nether Mills East.)
Scale:  1 cm divisions
Heather M Sabnis