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Nether Mills Of Crathes

Flint Scatter (Prehistoric), Settlement (Period Unassigned)(Possible)

Site Name Nether Mills Of Crathes

Classification Flint Scatter (Prehistoric), Settlement (Period Unassigned)(Possible)

Alternative Name(s) Nethermills Farm

Canmore ID 36638

Site Number NO79NE 23

NGR NO 7588 9616

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

C14 Radiocarbon Dating


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
Canmore Disclaimer. © Copyright and database right 2019.

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Administrative Areas

  • Council Aberdeenshire
  • Parish Banchory-ternan
  • Former Region Grampian
  • Former District Kincardine And Deeside
  • Former County Kincardineshire

Archaeology Notes

NO79NE 23 7588 9616.

A large number of worked flints were found at Nether Mills of Crathes by surface collection after ploughing and heavy rain. The site was examined at various times between the spring of 1973 and January 1975 by Dr Grieve. The finds are preserved in Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums.

DES 1975.

NO 758 961. Partial excavation of the flint scatter which covered an area of c.1000 square metres with a clear focus where burnt flint was common, has revealed over thirty features including small pits, post-holes and stake-holes. Some of the posts appear to belong to a circular structure. Rig and furrow has cut the site prior to modern agricultural disturbance.

J B Kenworthy 1978; J B Kenworthy 1979; J B Kenworthy 1980.

NO 759 963. Sampling of a slighter flint scatter revealed on industry similar but not identical to the above. It may be possible to relate this to a nearby hollow containing peat and preserved organic material. Excavation in the area of a flint scatter 380m ESE of Nether Mills of Crathes farmhouse has revealed the pits, post and stake-holes of a settlement. Flint scatters have been noted further to the N in the same field and in the next field to the W.

J B Kenworthy 1981; RCAHMS 1984.

The excavation of this site yielded large quantities of carbonised wood and nut fragments. Their analysis indicates a pronounced domination of Quercus (oak). This probably means that wood was collected from local woodland in which oak was dominant.

W E Boyd and J B Kenworthy 1993.


Excavation (1978 - 1981)

Situated at a riverside location, this site was excavated by the late James Kenworthy between 1978 and 1981, following the collection of a large number of prehistoric flints by a local fieldwalker. The excavations revealed a number of postholes, some of which formed the circle of a possible prehistoric house. Finds included in excess of 20,000 flints of a largely Mesolithic date. The excavations produced a good archive, which contains charred remains, including a significant number of hazelnut fragments, from which it is hoped new radiocarbon dates may be obtained. More recently, further systematic fieldwalking has revealed a considerable quantity of flints in fields adjacent to the excavation site (see above). The original excavator, James Kenworthy, recently passed away, but analysis and reporting continues. The site remains of regional and national significance due to the size of the lithic assemblage and the presence of a presumed house site, which when considered alongside recent excavations of Mesolithic settlements, for example at East Barns, Dunbar can now be more fully contextualised as potentially a key site of the Mesolithic of Scotland.

Archive and finds: NMS

Funder: Historic Scotland

University of Liverpool

Field Walking (January 2009 - March 2009)

NO 7588 9616 During 1978–81 an excavation by JB Kenworthy identified a possible ‘house’ and recovered 20,000 flints from a 20 x 10m site near the edge of a river terrace on the river Dee (NO79NE 23). In January–March 2009 adjoining areas of two recently ploughed fields were walked at 2m intervals to include this site and its surrounds. This is a continuation of the survey started in 2008 to discover the full extent of flint scatters in Crathes.

Over 4300 flints were collected from an area of c100,000m2 extending 500m along and 250m from the terrace edge. GPS co-ordinates were recorded for each find using WAAS, typically accurate to 2–3m. Distribution figures were calculated on the basis of the flint numbers per 10 x 10m square. The highest concentration was in a c20 x 40m zone containing almost 450 flints, close to the area of the previous dig, but there were several other smaller, less concentrated ‘hotspots’ on this very extensive site.

About three-quarters of the material has been briefly examined, but less than a quarter studied in more detail.

The assemblage contains all stages of production, from the preparation of raw material to finished tools. The major element represents later (Narrow Blade) Mesolithic technology, with diagnostic microliths (see photo: a–g), microburins, and cores (mainly single platform), but so far only a few scrapers. However, larger broad-based isosceles triangles, retouched on both sides, and one obliquely retouched ‘point’ may represent an earlier Broad Blade industry. In general this is very similar to the Mesolithic assemblage (3000 flints) found in 2008 (Sabnis, H and Kenworthy, JB, DES 2008) from walking the next field but one to the W, the main differences being the presence of the triangles and just one obliquely truncated point, compared with no triangles and several truncated points at the W site. Both sites probably represent continued base-camp occupation over a long time.

A Neolithic component is also present, as it was on the W site. Here, it is represented by a leaf-shaped arrowhead (photo: h), two broken leaf-shaped arrowheads, a retouched flake knife (photo: i), and a potsherd. A possible Early Bronze Age ‘rough-out’ for a barbed and tanged arrowhead was also found.

Report: Aberdeenshire SMR and RCAHMS (intended)

Heather M Sabnis and James B Kenworthy – OFARS

Field Walking (January 2011 - March 2011)

NO 7466 9597 and NO 7526 9602 Further fieldwalking was carried out at 2m intervals in January–March 2011 on two fields bordering the N bank of the River Dee. This is a continuation of the survey started in 2008 to discover the full extent of the flint scatter in Crathes. The first field was located between Nether Mills West (DES 2008, 16–17) and the two fields comprising Nether Mills East (DES 2009, 16), mainly along the river terrace common to both sites. The second field (Milton Cottage) was in the next field to the W of the four Nether Mills fields. Flints had been previously reported in this field by Dr John Grieve in 1973. GPS co-ordinates were recorded for each find, typically accurate to 2 3m. Distribution figures were calculated on the basis of flint numbers per 10 x 10msq. The material has been briefly assessed but not examined in detail.

Milton Cottage The majority of almost 500 flints were recovered from along the W end of the riverside area, with a concentration on an area of higher ground. The finds continued further back in the field and linked up with the assemblage at the NW end of the Nether Mills site. Flints were also found in the area bordering the football pitches, which now occupy the W part of the original field. No flints were found in the sandy E riverside area. Other areas, looked at less intensively, yielded very few flints.

A number of diagnostic microliths were found, including a large wide-based triangle (Early Mesolithic), two typical of the Late Mesolithic, and one smaller isosceles triangle, possibly an intermediate form. Cores, mainly single platform, scrapers and debitage from all stages of raw material preparation and tool production were also recovered.

This flint scatter is vast. It extends for c1.75km over five fields along the N bank of the River Dee and could extend further, through the football pitches to the Coy Burn, on the W border of the original Milton Cottage field and entering the River Dee at the SW corner.

Nether Mills West Almost 500 flints were collected from along the terrace. These were mostly located towards the edge and increased in concentration at the W end. This scatter is presumably part of the intensive site in the field to the W. The assemblage contains all stages of production, from the preparation of raw material to finished tools. No microliths were found this year, but scrapers, cores (mainly single platform) and debitage were recovered. Other areas of the field (the steep bank to the N, and the sandy lower area to the S) were walked less intensively, and the few flints recovered came from close to the terrace.

My thanks go to the late James B Kenworthy for his assistance and support.

Archive: Aberdeenshire SMR and RCAHMS (intended)

OFARS 2011

Collections Managment (June 2018 - March 2019)

NO 75050 96000 – Nethermills Farm NM1, NO 75880 96160

– Nethermills Farm NM4, NO 79550 98180 – East Park,

NO 80350 98500 – Dalmaik Farm, NO 81050 98500 – Dalmaik

Hatchery, NO 74730 95950 – Milton Cottage, NO 71800 96200

– Birkwood East, NJ 85700 00600 – Maryculter Bridge

Cataloguing, June 2018 – March 2019, of an existing

collection of lithics from a number of sites resulting from

fieldwalking along the River Dee undertaken by Dr Grieve

in the 1970s has revealed evidence of activity from the

Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age.

Archive: Contributors (currently), Aberdeenshire Council and

HRHE (intended)

Funder: Society of Antiquaries of London, Society of Antiquaries

of Scotland, Marc Fitch Fund, and Aberdeenshire Council

Caroline Wickham-Jones and Torben Bjarke Ballin

(Source: DES, Volume 19)


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