Daer Excavation Update

View of new windfarm from our latest sites
View towards new windfarm from our latest sites.

We’ve now completed a few more sites and a new one; no. 104 was only discovered last weekend and we have already excavated 9 square metres of it.

This new site is only a few metres away from site No100 which we started a couple of weeks ago and are still progressing – No 100 has produced chert, flint and pitchstone, and also a couple of nice microliths, the pitchstone means there is a Neolithic aspect to it and the microliths clearly indicate the Mesolithic. The new location – Site 104 – has produced a lot of nice flint, mostly honey coloured and struck from beach pebbles. We know this as there have been lots of pebble fragments with cortex.

Initial thinking is that this site is Neolithic judging by the size of the flint; however we have now found eight microliths from the same area, so maybe it’s another mixed Mesolithic and Neolithic like the nearby Site 100.

Faceted haematite
Faceted haematite – click for larger view

At No 104 we have found a feature which initially looked like a fireplace, but after closer inspection, it looks more like a cooking pit, with lots of charcoal and burnt stones intermixed. Four stakeholes in a rough line were also excavated and amazingly one still had the carbonised remains of a stake in it! So that will be subject to identification and dating.

Site 100 and 104 may not relate to each other despite their close proximity because chert dominates at No100 and in No104 chert is almost absent.

One of the many highlights so far is the discovery of Haematite, a maroon coloured soft iron ore, which when rubbed gives a reddish/maroon colour. Some pieces are faceted by grinding and have striae showing that they have been used, presumably as a colouring agent. Recently in Orkney, Neolithic stone walling was found to have been coloured by haematite. At Daer, we are uncertain whether our haematite, which is sealed below peat, dates to the Mesolithic or the Neolithic as it comes from sites with both periods represented. Either way, it is a significant discovery.

Faceted Haematite
Faceted haematite – click image for larger view

The same type of haematite was used extensively on post medieval sites such as bastle houses and we have recorded numerous instances of this, we presume it was used as keel on these sites in the 17th and 18th centuries. We have not been able to source the haematite but now we have found it in a pre historic context and in the same general area, we are assuming it must have been gathered from somewhere locally in Upper Clydesdale.