Archaeological excavations at Nethermills Farm, Deeside, 1978–81
Wickham-Jones, CR, Kenworthy, JB, Gould, A, MacGregor, G & Noble, G, with contributions from Ballin, TB, Boyd, B, Ewan, L, Duthie, S, Gallagher, D, Kenney, J, Sabnis, H & Ransay, S 2016, 'Archaeological excavations at Nethermills Farm, Deeside, 1978–81', Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 146, pp. 7-55.
The Mesolithic site of Nethermills Farm, Crathes, Banchory, was identified from fieldwalking that took place between 1973 and 1977 and it was excavated between 1978 and 1981 under the direction of James Kenworthy. Kenworthy interpreted the site as a ‘hunter-gatherer camp’ with probable evidence for a circular structure, but publication of the excavation was never completed. This paper draws on specialist work undertaken immediately after excavation, together with new analyses and radiocarbon determinations from original samples. It focuses on the results of excavation: material from the fieldwalking is briefly considered towards the end of the discussion, but detailed analysis of the lithics from fieldwalking is left for future research. A number of stratified features were excavated and recorded, together with a lithic assemblage of over 30,000 pieces, which includes many narrow blade microliths. It is not possible to uphold the interpretation that the cut features represent the remains of a specific structure but it is clear that Mesolithic activity took place here, probably comprising repeated visits over a considerable period of time. The radiocarbon determinations cover a wide spread of activity from the Mesolithic to the Bronze Age – though there are no clear chronological indicators of later prehistoric activity in the finds from the site. Kenworthy chose to excavate only a tiny proportion of the site at Nethermills, which extends some 2km along the River Dee. The likelihood that stratified features may survive elsewhere makes this a Mesolithic site of considerable significance – especially when considered in the context of the many other Mesolithic sites along the River Dee, from its source to the sea.