Melbourne Area

Pottery being excavated
Mini Beaker in childs? grave

This project was initiated in response to the finds obtained by fieldwalking in the area flanking the A702 to the east of Melbourne crossroads.

Melbourne crossroads

An opportunity for a detailed investigation was provided by the development in 1995 of a conifer plantation just east of the Melbourne crossroads. A systematic inspection of the furrows ploughed across the site was carried out. Large numbers of lithic fragments were present, in some cases occurring in significant concentrations. In addition, quantities of Early Neolithic burnished pottery and Late Neolithic Grooved and Impressed Wares were found.

A number of excavations were carried out. These revealed numerous pits of various sizes and surfaces with which were associated charcoal and substantial quantities of lithics and pottery. Notably, a large quantity of pitchstone was recovered at one localised scatter.

Radiocarbon dates indicate activity within the Early Neolithic and Late Neolithic periods. No structural evidence for houses in the form of post holes was found but it is reasonable to interpret the discrete patches of activity as representing habitation sites.

Brownsbank Farm

Fieldwalking of the fields to the south and west of the plantation also produced substantial numbers of finds including discrete scatters of Early Neolithic pottery. Excavations here recovered significant assemblages of sherds and a number of pits were also found. Charcoal yielded Early Neolithic dates.

As at Melbourne, although the presence of a settlement was strongly indicated, no actual structural evidence for houses was found

Excavation trench
Howburn farm excavations

Howburn Farm

Fieldwalking in the lands of Howburn produced a range of lithic materials and pottery sherds similar to that found at the Melbourne and Brownsbank sites. However, one field in particular, on the north side of the A702, was distinguished by the presence of scatters of Late Mesolithic lithic materials, consisting mainly of chert. In addition, the finds from this field included an assemblage of large flint tools and debitage, occurring in discrete scatters.

An excavation of one of these was carried out in the winter of 2005/6. This yielded large quantities of lithic materials including further examples of the large flint fragments and tools.

The writer, influenced by the presence of sites of this date, only a little distance to the south on the other side of the road, mistakenly considered these to be most probably of Late Neolithic date.

However, Alan Saville of the National Museums of Scotland identified the assemblage as Upper Paleolithic, thereby making Howburn a unique site in Scotland.

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