Uncovering one of the largest Mesolithic Sites in the UK

The brown dotted lines indicate the approximate edges of the three terraces. The lower terrace (below the dotted lines, extends over MC, to the south-west corner of NM 3. The bank of the upper terrace (above the dotted lines) extends along the south edge of NM 1A into NM 2, and peters out somewhat into a hillocky and pebbly area at the north of NM 3. Between the two, the middle terrace, (approximate location between the dotted lines on the map) widens gradually towards the east becoming the river bank in NM3. See ‘Google Map’ on the General Results page for an aerial photograph of NM 2 showing the terraces. In general, the middle and upper terraces are quite pebbly. The lower terrrace tends to be more sandy/silty, with fewer pebbles. The south-east corner of MC is quite sandy. The middle terrace is more varied: some areas are more silty, especially at the base of the upper terrace in field NM 2 owing to downwash from the bank, with some areas more pebbly. The northern part of NM 3, where the ‘bank’ becomes less steep, and the northern edge of NM 4 are both very pebbly. The bank of the upper terrace and the ‘ridge’ is quite gravelly and pebbly and extends further east beyond NM 1A ending in a gravel quarry. On the other side of the north wall of NM 1 (in NM 1A) some lynchetting has taken place, where the wall has prevented further downwash from the bank. The southern edge of the middle terrace is slowly eroding as a result of ploughing, especially in NM1 and 2. During our fieldwalking in NM 2 it was noticed that a gravelly/coarse sandy layer was exposed at this edge, presumably as a result of ploughing at a deeper level than had been done previously.
Site description
Site 0.5 Km Football pitches Farm track Conifers Conifers Conifers Riverside track Riverside track Farm track
This extensive, predominantly Mesolithic site, stretches almost 2km along the north bank of the River Dee at Crathes, and is approximately 20 miles SW of Aberdeen, and 3 miles East of Banchory. The map below (from OS Explorer 406 Aberdeen and Banchory) shows the area around Crathes. Locations of other flint scatters nearby derived from Canmore, Aberdeenshire SMR and personal communications have been added.
The sketch map below shows the location of the five main contiguous fields along the north bank of the river: Milton Cottage (MC) and Nethermills fields 1-4 (NM 1-4). Field Nethermils 1A is the field to the north of Nethermills field 1.
James found evidence of rig and furrow in his excavation, but we saw no visible surface signs in that field or in any of the others we looked at. Victorian pottery, clay pipe fragments, clay marbles and small earthenware pots were found in all the Nethermills fields, but not in Milton Cottage field. Maybe this field was not ploughed until after the war?
© Copyright 2019 Heather M Sabnis