In 2014 I took on the job of bringing many other people’s work to fruition and putting together the final publication of excavation and analysis at Nethermills Farm, near Banchory, Aberdeenshire. Work here first started in the 1970s with fieldwalking undertaken by Dr John Grieve, but it was the late James Kenworthy who carried out the excavation and bought the site to a wider public. Since James worked on the site, many other people have been involved with the project and all I did was to pull it all together. The paper has now been published in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, and it can be downloaded (free) here. Thanks to Historic Environment Scotland for facilitating and financing this.
It was a lot of fun and reminded me why the Mesolithic is such an interesting period. The project introduced me to an amazing site which I had not really looked at in detail before. The lithic site at Nethermills stretches for some 2km (surely one of the biggest scatter sites in Scotland) along the north bank of the River Dee and there is evidence for activity from the Late Upper Palaeolithic to the Bronze Age, though most of the finds relate to the Mesolithic.
Nethermills should be viewed in the context of other local Mesolithic evidence, such as Warren Field, Crathes, and, indeed, a plethora of Mesolithic sites along the river, from those in the City of Aberdeen on the coast, to those in the Cairngorms at the source. The Mesolithic archaeology of the River Dee affords an unusual opportunity to explore the remains left by our post-glacial hunter-gatherer ancestors across a broad sweep of the landscape.
I’m glad to say that work at Nethermills has not stopped. There is a very active local group who still fieldwalk, dig test pits, and examine flint tools! There is a huge amount of potential here and I am hoping to work with Gordon Noble of Aberdeen University in the autumn of 2018 to investigate whether the organic preservation and stratified deposits uncovered by James Kenworthy still survive. If they do then the site is significant indeed!