Monthly Archives: June 2011

Summary of pitchstone research available online

Posted by Steve Burrow on June 10, 2011
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Torben Bjarke Ballin, Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Bradford and member of the IPG has published a paper in the Bulletin of the International Association of Obsidian Studies describing the results of his study of pitchstone. His project, begun in 2004, led to the production of a database of 5,542 pieces of archaeologically worked pitchstone derived from around 350 sites. A further 14,707 artefacts are noted on the database but were not examined in person.

Torben’s work has shown that pitchstone was in use from the Mesolithic to the Early Bronze Age on Arran, but there is no evidence for its use in mainland Scotland during the Mesolithic and little evidence for its use off Arran during the Bronze Age.

Torben’s paper can be found here.

Launch of Stone Axes Studies 3

Posted by Steve Burrow on June 07, 2011
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The long-awaited launch of Stone Axe Studies III took place
with a wine reception held during the Hands Across the Water
Conference in Bournemouth on Saturday 07 May 2011. This important,
and highly successful, Conference was organized jointly by the
Prehistoric Society, the School of Applied Sciences of the Bournemouth
University, La Société Préhistorique Française and the Neolithic
Studies Group. It was a fitting occasion for the book launch; one of
the editors attended. Oxbow thanked both editors for their strong
cooperation and determination in bringing the handsome volume to
publication, and especially for the high quality of its design and

From the beginning of the discipline, stone and flint axes have
occupied an important place in the archaeological imagination.
Building blocks in the foundation of ideas about prehistory, they have
been prominent in the literature ever since, definitive fossils of
particular periods and touchstones for arguments about the character
of human society over time.

Bringing together the results of research from around the world, this
volume makes it clear that our fascination with these artifacts is
nothing new. Whatever the cultural setting, the period or place, axes
have loomed large in the collective imagination. And they have done
so in ways that cut across the academic line we often draw between the
practical facts of use and the meaningful qualities of material

Many of the papers collected here take us from the birth of axes at
specific sources to their death in graves, hoards and other settings.
Others trace the afterlives of blades in more recent collections.
Documenting research in lab, field and archive, they demonstrate that
then, as now, the biographies of axes and people are hard to