04 September 2006

Close ups of peck marks

(Cairnholy-6. Photo by George. Click to enlarge)
Is anyone out there aware of any studies which look at the fine detail of peck marks? I'm still undecided about this 'andesite pick' concept. It seems to work in Northumberland as a rough rule, but some of the pecks look a bit too tight. Also, the few bits of Dumfries stuff I've seen look like they would have been well tricky to make with a stone pick. Then just to add to my confusion, I read that schist is harder than granite, so the Kilmartin stuff would have been a bit difficult to do with stone. So I guess what I'm asking is about suff in a similar vein to those studies you see about scratches on flints or metal tools that indicate what they were used for, but in reverse.


wolfy said...

Hi Hob,

I suppose we are back to the old dating game?..Are the carvings stone age, or bronze age...where is the age line drawn, do you suddenly stop using stone tools and then start using metal tools, do we have a time of using both?..some carvings needing finer details, using metal, or rougher carvings using stone. Does the rock itself determine the tool needed...oh god round and round ,lol..anyway happy thoughts..


george said...

Robert Bedarnik is probably the best bet for that type of query .The only thing that I think may be of use Hob is the study done by John Clegg who found that direct percussion i.e just using a hammerstone was far more effective than indirect percussion i.e. using hammer and chisel technique

Hobson said...

Aye Brian, the idea of a stone/metal overlap is intriging me. I keep thinking of copper nails. When I've mucked about doing the diyRA, I've found that nails leave pecks marks very similar to the ones I see in Nbland. But those crisper markings are at places like North Plantation and Hunterheugh, which are thought to be re-used/re-marked in the BA. So mebbe they're crisper because they're younger, or because they were metal tools.

I'm quite taken by the Clegg thing, as I've thought the same when comparing a pointy metal hammer with a hammer and chisel.

That reminds me, John Clegg is supposed to be in Northumberland this month, possibly looking out for some shallow fire reddened bowls which I've been meaning to ask about here for a while.

Last thing: Part of the reason I'd asked was due to a recent online conversation about the natural/artificial side of things. If any of you are tempted to add your two-pennorthworth, please feel free, it can be fund here:

rockrich said...

Fascinating read. Would love to read Sue’s research.

Sue probably has a point on cup marks, but not too sure about a large % of rings being natural.

The number of sites visited that have been previously identified as cup marked by the “pro’s” that just look natural to me is an ever increasing number. Theres enough evidence about, to suggest that natural fissures were central in design to some carvings, why not some natural cup marks too? I can think of a few carvings (Barningham & Ilkley) where cups that look entirely natural (to me anyway) sit next to others which are probably manmade. I’ve become such a sceptic of ‘cup only’ panels now, that in my head most are no greater than ‘possibles’, pending formation & peck marks.

(you’ll have to excuse me on the next paragraph, its based on bog all evidence)

The question of what was used to make the motifs puzzles me greatly, just can’t get my head round metal tools being used in the very late neo & early Bronze Age. Surely, it would have been too rare & precious a commodity to perform such a damaging task. Having said that, as with RA, maybe there were regional variations & some were quite happy to use this precious metal to carve important panels. By the end of the RA tradition metal would have been more available & maybe B-A peeps didn’t think anything of using metal to carve. Could you draw a comparison from how much of the early B-A metal finds actually had a practical use, or was it all ceremonial & power bling for the chief?

How does antler measure up to carving stone, will it fracture too easily?

Hobson said...

>why not some natural cup marks too?

Damn right. I've been thinking along those lines for a while.

I know what you mean about the rarity of metal. I can see cups and linear grooves as being eminently easier to do with a stone pick. But stone picks don't leave such clear pecks (at least not Andesite on sandstone), it's more like crushing than it is pecking. I dunno. It's something to chew over.

If you're on a 'dodgy cups' tip Rich, you'll love the stuff I saw up at Kilmartin. Right on the threshold they are, well dodgy. I'll sort the pics out and post them up here.

wolfy said...

Hi Hob,

You been back up to Kilmartin?..

If we are on about peck marks, the best i have seen so far are those on some of the carvings at Townhead, you won't see better. hopefully you should all be seeing them next year at the RAM..


george said...

Martin ,from Kilmartin has had quite a bit of success using a dolerite or basalt (not sure which but will find out ) chisel and wooden hammer .

Hobson said...

There's that McFetters fella who made the modern CnR outside the Kilmartin museum. I wonder what he used? I knwo Ray Mears used Andesite on the Northumberland millstone (dead easy).

The thing is, neither of these allow for the formation of 'tight' motifs such as the D&G ones.

george said...

Hello Hob , not sure what you mean by "tight"

rockrich said...

hob, I don't know why but I get the feeling that some carvings, especially close multiple rings may have been scraped out rather than bashed. To me, some of the angles in grooves don't lend themselves to percussion