12th meeting of the Implement Petrology Group
held at St Olave’s Church Hall, York.
Vin Davis (Chairman), Torben Balin, Stephen Burrow (Minute Secretary from 2.15pm), Gabriel Cooney, Tom Clare, John Llywelyn Williams, Frances Lynch (Minute Secretary), Jamie Quartermaine, Fiona Roe, Alison Sheridan, Gillian Varndell, Kath Walker, Andrew Young.
Stephen Briggs, Tim Darvill, David Dawson, Mark Edmonds, Mike Heyworth, David Jenkins, Steve Mandal, Ian Meighan, Pete Topping, Joan Taylor, Dave Weddle.
2.1 The Chairman congratulated Alison Sheridan on her election as President of the Prehistoric Society and Petrus Petrequin on his Europa Award. He also welcomed Andy Young and Kath Walker.
3. The Minutes of the last meeting (May 6th in Carmarthen)
Approved without alteration and signed. There were no matters arising from the minutes not already placed on the Agenda.
4. Chairman’s Report
The report had been circulated in advance of the meeting.
4.1 It was reported that Russell Coope’s thin section material, which had been sent back to the Lapworth Museum in Birmingham and catalogued, has now been returned to the Manx Museum. and a petrological microscope purchased. All this had been facilitated by the IPG (Jon Clatworthy, Alliosn Fox and Kate Barr) according to the policy on re-distribution of slide material. Alison Sheridan reported that the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow had requested the return of thin sections of axes belonging to their museum, which had been agreed by the National Museum since this was their own criterion of ‘ownership’.
4.2 AHRC Grant : A note was circulated from Mark Edmonds. A revised application had gone in and the result may be known in February. If it is successful the research will be managed for the IPG by ME and by Peter Webb of the Open University. There was some discussion of a related research interest concerning the geochemistry of Group VI, which was being considered by the SW Museums Committee. It was understood that the IPG application had been adjusted to be more complementary to the research under consideration by the SW Committee and some similar adjustment of their application was awaited. Fiona Roe said that there would be a meeting of the SW Committee soon, but she might not be able to attend it.
4.3 Atlas of petrography. There is a need to put information on the IPG website.
4.4 Frances Lynch mentioned that she had attended a conference of the Prehistoric Pottery Research Group at which Patrick Quinn of Sheffield University had demonstrated his own petrographic website, to which he invited others to contribute. This was a sophisticated database built with the help of Sheffield University computing department. She had urged Dr Quinn to contact the Chairman, but the contact has not yet been made. firstname.lastname@example.org
4.5 Publications. The York Conference had been published as Internet Archaeology Special Issue No.26 which had been well received. Mark Edmonds reported that the text and illustrations for Stone Axe Studies 3 had been delivered to Oxbow before Christmas and it was hoped that publication would be in March/April 2011. The contents list was circulated. Alison Sheridan said that she had seen the page setting which had been done by Mark Edmonds and it was very fine. The publication would be supervised by Julie Gardner at Oxbow. The print-run was uncertain but it was agreed that it should be 400. Gabriel Cooney congratulated Vin Davis and Mark Edmonds on their work on this book.
4.6 It was suggested that the book should be publicly launched at the Prehistoric Society’s Conference in Bournemouth on May 6-8th 2011. This would be an opportunity to give it publicity in Britain and France. It was agreed that a good flyer would be needed for this event and for circulating on websites. In discussing the finances (below) it was agreed that a wine reception should be hosted.
5. Research projects
Vin Davis proposed that the Group extend its current pattern of meetings (normally one business meeting and one field weekend meeting annually) to include extended visits for research projects involving Members, which required longer periods of time for fieldwork and lab work, for example the Ireland and Shetland proposals (Item 6 below). The proposal was agreed unanimously.
6. Future meetings
6.1 Gabriel Cooney and Vin Davis suggested an extended visit to Ireland in 2012 to look for a source in the Limerick area for ‘Irish Group VI’ axes. The petrographic examination by Vin Davis of axes excavated from an enclosure at Tullyhedy, which had produced a lot of axes, raised the question of whether all ‘Group VI axes’ had really originated in the English Lake District. Gabriel Cooney suggested a week-long tour beginning in Cork and ending at Dublin which might also take in some Mesolithic/Neolithic chert and rhyolite quarries near Lough Derrinvaragh. He had a PhD student working on the topic who would have more information by 2012.
6.2 Torben Ballin and Gabriel Cooney also proposed another longer meeting in Shetland as part of a similar longer-term project to verify stone origins. A phase of re-definition of origins was needed for more than one group, notably Groups VI and VIII; these visits and the AHRC grant research would all relate to this work.
7. IPG policy on Thin Sectioning
The Group agreed to adopt the following wording of a policy proposed by the Chairman on thin sectioning . The purpose of re-statement of the policy was to clarify any misconceptions raised by Alison Sheridan and Petrus Petrequin in relation to jadeite axes after the Cardiff Conference in 2010.
The routine use of destructive sampling, especially on fine quality objects, should be avoided. Coring to provide rock samples for PTS description and geochemical analysis, with restoration determined appropriately by the artefact’s owner, should continue as the cornerstone (as in France) of IPG petrographic research in the UK and Ireland, and the level of sampling for ‘total petrographic analysis’ should be decided on a case-by-case basis.
8. IPG policy on the production and subsequent treatment of Replicas
8.1 This matter was raised in connection with the production in Cumbria of replica stone axes in authentic Group VI stone for outreach work for the National Trust and Penrith Museum. There was considerable discussion on this topic, led by Andrew Young who made replicas of stone tools for his own research. He said that, in addition to specimens made using authentic techniques, there were now replicas made on a large scale by grindstone etc which were being sold on eBay. These were of no archaeological value but could deceive and confuse, especially if they and the debris of their manufacture were discarded and later re-discovered.
8.2 It was agreed that all replicas should be permanently marked as such. Knapping waste created in the authentic way had a teaching role and should be carefully curated with the replicas. If it was not to be kept it, should be crushed or disposed of within a clearly stratified landfill deposit.
8.3 It was agreed that these guidelines (which are to be reviewed and revised by Jamie Quartermain and Andrew Young before the next meeting) should be posted on the IPG website. The IPG should discuss the issue with the Museums Association and with any Association of Replica makers.
8.4 The Chairman announced that Jim Cherry’s archaeological photographs were now catalogued and were available for loan to IPG members from Peter Cherry.
9. Treasurer’s Report
9.1 Tom Clare said that there had been no out-goings in the last year and that the account now stood at £628.57. He asked for the approval of the group to put up to £500 of this money into Premium Bonds since it was earning no interest in the bank. This was agreed in principle.
9.2 Certain expenses which would arise during the coming year were identified: cost of hiring St Olave’s Hall; cost of maintaining the website; and costs of the launch of SAS3.
10. Secretary’s Report
10.1 Steve Burrow apologised for his late arrival due to missing a rail connection in Bristol.
10.2 He reported on the present situation of the website. It had been initially set up for the York Conference in 2007 and continued from then, being housed on his own website: www.steve.burrow.name/ipg. User name: ipg password York Ideally it needs a separate provider which would cost about £50 per annum.
The current structure is:–
Home About Us Stone axes News Next Meeting Past meetings Conferences
History Agenda Minutes York 2007–programme
Contacts Venue abstracts
10.3 Other elements are ‘essay sections’ which need input from members: Directory of Mines; Atlas of Petrology and Quarry (on the recommendation of Peter Topping, the content of Quarry (produced by a sister organisation in America) is to be removed because of possibility of legal infringements. Only a link is to remain.
10.4 The chairman’s regular bibliography of published works on implement petrology should be included on the website along with papers and field guides provided for information during meetings.
11. Members Research
11.1 Andrew Young of Exeter University spoke about his experimental work on the production of ground stone axes and battle-axes. He thanked members of IPG for their help and support in this work. The nature of a particular material informs the technology and design of a tool, but both utilitarian pressures and social pressures produce the final production system. In his experiments all debitage is bagged and weighed and the amount of work is measured in terms of time and output. He was looking at pecking, grinding and polishing with respect to the % of surface treated. He was also looking at the difference between hammer stones and pecking tools and had been doing experimental work on perforations.
11.2 Kath Walker described her doctoral research programme: Stone tools and identity: an investigation into the roles that the movement and exchange of stone and flint tools played in identity formation during the British Neolithic. Some of the key elements of my research involve looking more closely at the contexts in which jadeite axes are found in Britain, specifically in terms of dating through possible associated finds; compiling a corpus of possible imported Neolithic Danish flint axes and again looking at contexts, and looking at stylistic influences, if any, of Continental and Danish tools on native British examples from the period. I am particularly interested in material from the east coast of Yorkshire which seems to be entirely unique… These elements raise a whole series of questions such as the nature of Neolithic seafaring as well as issues about sea level change and possibilities of surviving North Sea sandbanks.
11.3 Torben Balin described (i) the recent Upper Palaeolithic discovery from a re-analysis of previous lithic collections involving cherts with distinctive colour and texture. (ii) Field walking had begun in fault-controlled terrain on Eastern Lewis to differentiate between sources of quartz, rhyolite and metamudstone artefacts. (iii) Field walking in North Roe, Shetland with Gabriel Cooney during summer 2010 formed the basis for the proposal (Items 5 & 6 above) – to investigate the worked exposures of igneous and sedimentary rocks and their associated stone implements. (iv) A proposal has been submitted to BAC for a new BAR Monograph about the use of Yorkshire Flint in Southern Scotland.
11.4 Fiona Roe is investigating finds of stone axe fragments of possible Langdale origin from an early Neolithic house at Kingsmead Quarry, Horton, Berks, which is dated to 3960. Vin Davis cautioned against attributing lithic material to any particular IP Group without sufficiently secure petrographic evidence, especially when the result may have important archaeological significance.
11.5 Rosemary Stewart (summary of written report tabled). I hope to build up a ‘gazetteer of British cherts. I’m acquiring up a good knowledge of chert types myself but there’s nothing like local knowledge. If this is acceptable to the Group, here’s what I suggest: I’d like to advertise, asking people to contact me with information about chert outcrops and/or drift deposits. Useful details would be a grid reference, details of the type of occurrence, a bit about the geology etc – I’d work out a proper format. The next couple of years I shall be travelling up and back from Devon to Scotland so could stop off in any of the cherty areas and collect a sample ready for lab analysis. I would help if the person who provided the details would accompany me to the location but would not insist on this! I plan to build up a list of cherts with their geochemical analysis and a description (and of course, would acknowledge the person who provided the information). This would be part of my PhD dissertation and could perhaps eventually be published as a ‘pocket guide’ for archaeologists. Members strongly support this initiative.
11.6 Ian Meighan (summary of written report tabled) described four current projects: (i) Brú na Boínne : an lithic sourcing programme using non-destructive portable XRF analysis under the direction of Drs. Peter Webb and John Watson. The archaeological interpretation of the results will be assisted by Professor Gabriel Cooney. The project has been funded by the Geological Survey of Northern Ireland but is essentially an ‘all Ireland’ one. (ii) Porcellanite sources utilised by Neolithic people will be investigated further in terms of small trenching operations at Tievebulliagh and Brockley (Rathin Island), subject to permission and NIEA funding. This will also involve LIDAR and GPR surveys. (iii) Stone Circles: a detailed study of the Ballynoe Stone Circle, Co. Down has commenced. This involves careful identification of its rock types, of which there are several ( suggesting utilisaation of glacial erratic material). (iv) Sourcing of quartz at Neolithic sites: a programme of oxygen isotopic analysis and fluid inclusion study has commenced on quartz samples from diverse geological occurrences in Ireland (Professor A.E. Fallick, SUERC< East Kilbride and Dr. Jamie Wilkinson, Imperial College London in collaboration with I.G.Meighan) 12. Next Meeting
It was agreed to accept the offer by Nick Jowett, David Jenkins and John Llywelyn Williams to host a meeting in Bangor, North Wales on the weekend of May 13th -15th 2011 when the Bronze Age copper mining sites on Parys Mountain (Anglesey) and the Great Orme (near Llandudno) could be visited and the choice and use of stone mauls at the two sites could be discussed. A programme was suggested:
Friday evening May 13th Meeting in Bangor Museum to view mauls, bone tools from the Great Orme and Romano-British querns from Anglesey and IPG business meeting.
Saturday May 14th Visit to Anglesey to see:
1. Parys Mine: underground galleries (wellingtons essential)
2. Mauls from various Anglesey beaches.
3. Possible surface working site.
4. Millstone quarry near Benllech (production in 19th and 14th centuries and probable source of RB querns)
Sunday May 15th Visit to Great Orme Mine (public underground tour and possible extension into non-public areas); discussion of tools found. Meeting to end mid-afternoon.
John Williams and Frances Lynch agreed to provide information on suitable accommodation in Bangor for 12-15 people. It was thought that it would be simplest to travel in private cars (sharing). There are good trains to Bangor and returning from Llandudno Junction.
13. Any other business
There was no other business.