Early settlers: objects

Stone Age Food

The Middle Stone Age, or Mesolithic people were hunter-gatherers. It is common on sites like East Barns to find food remains such as:

Periwinkle shells and fish bones1) Periwinkle shells

2) Fish bones

3) Edible seeds

4) Fruit pips and nuts

 Mesolithic Food

During the Mesolithic period (10000–5000 BC) we think that humans lived in small, relatively mobile family groups.  We generally consider that these movements were influenced by the availability of food.  However, the close proximity of coast, hills and plain at East Barns may have meant that groups stayed there for longer as a variety of food sources were available all year round.

The coast has a year-round supply of food such as periwinkles and seaweed, not to mention fish.

The fertile plain would naturally have grown a variety of plants with edible seeds, roots, berries and nuts at different times of the year.

The hills were likely good year-round hunting grounds with deer, hare, wild pig and wild fowl all in abundance.



The ‘not just Stone’ Age …

Antler picksStone tools would often have been mounted on wooden, bone or antler shafts and handles.

5) Antler picks for digging, from North Berwick Law

6) Sickles were used to cut plants (replica)

7) Arrows had wooden shafts and delicately shaped stone heads (replica)


Stone Age recycling

Flint flakesA skilful stone toolmaker would leave little waste and use as much of a stone as possible. 

8 ) Flint flakes were removed from cores to make tools

9) Flint waste or debitage was often used to make microliths


A tool for every job

ScrapersStone tools would have had more than one use but usually fall into broad categories:

10) Scrapers used for cleaning skins

11) Blades used for cutting

12) Points used for making holes

13) Jasper was also used to make tools, a local source is found near Dirleton

Tools of the trade

The Mesolithic period (and the Neolithic Period) are commonly known as ‘the Stone Age’. This is because all that survives tends to be the stone parts of the tools used by humans in their day-to-day lives.

In reality many of these small flint tools would often have been mounted on wooden, bone or antler handles. It is likely that a resin made of wood sap and ashes was made into a strong glue to help fasten them, along with sinew and leather string.

Picks made from antlers would help digging up roots, while antler with sharp flint blades glued along one edge would act like a sickle. Arrows and spearheads would have had wooden shafts.

The making of the stone parts was a skilled process, and a good stone edge will remain sharp long after a metal counterpart becomes blunt.

To see some of East Lothian’s and Midlothian’s records from these periods, click Mesolithic and Neolithic.

Settlers display

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