Since 2000 a fieldwalking project has been carried out in an attempt to identify evidence for early prehistoric settlement in Caithness. This has revealed lithic scatters around the shores of Loch Scarmclate and Loch Watten, along the coast at Keiss and in the Yarrows basin. This evidence demonstrates that settlement was occurring from the later Mesolithic period onwards, with a particular focus on south facing slopes close to water. The evidence suggests that in the later Mesolithic and early Neolithic people were fairly mobile, moving around the landscape between established sites.
Excavations at the Mesolithic lithic scatter at Oliclett in the Yarrows basin have demonstrated that activities involving the manufacture of flint tools (microliths) had occurred in a specific location over a prolonged period of time.
In the later phases of the Neolithic and into the early Bronze Age, people appear to have become more sedentary. This is marked by a general down turn in the quality of the lithic technology and the abandonment of sites used in the preceding periods. It has been possible to distinguish between sites associated with domestic activities and those where activities associated with the processing of raw materials were taking place. It has also become clear that hunting was taking place in certain areas of the landscape, such as the upper slopes of valleys removed from the areas of domestic settlement - this is demonstrated by the recovery of isolated arrowheads in several upland locations.
All content © Caithness Archaeological Trust 2004
unless otherwise stated