The Cists

In addition to the Mesolithic site, a completely unexpected Bronze Age cist cemetery was found during the excavations. This consisted of five cists, though only one contained surviving fragments of bone. Some small fragments of food vessel were associated with another of the cists but this had been disturbed by a later burning pit

Remarkably a number of unfinished limestone axes had been placed directly on top of, or next to, the capstones of a number of the cists. This is particularly interesting as the limestone could well have come from the beach immediately below the site.

Four of the five cists, like the one pictured here, were for infants and the surviving bone fragments from one burial included pieces of a small skull. No bone survived in the adult burial due to the acidic soil. The reason bone fragments survived in the other cists was due to the cist slabs being made from whinstone which has an alkaline bias, unlike the acidic sandstone used for the other cists.

Another Bronze Age cist cemetery was discovered on the opposite promontory to the south of the Howick Burn by antiquarians during the nineteenth century. One of these cists had rock art on the underside of the capstone and a fragmentary pottery vessel was also found.

The Flints

The artefacts found in the Mesolithic hut consisted principally of flint tools. Most of what was found were waste from the production of tools like arrow points, hide scrapers, leather piercing tools and knives. Flint cores were found from which flakes would have been struck. Burins, small chisels, would also have been used for carving or engraving wood or bone. Backed blades were commonly used without a handle and simply held in the hand. The crescents and scalenes would, probably, have been used as barbs in hunting weapons.

Analysis of the flint shows that tool production and repair took place at Howick inside the hut. The raw material used to produce the tools could have been collected from the beach below.

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