Mineral chemical provenance of Neolithic pitchstone artefacts from Ballygalley, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland

J. Preston, I. Meighan, D. Simpson, Malcolm John Hole

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2 Citations (Scopus)


A large number of pitchstone fragments and artefacts have recently been discovered at a Neolithic settlement site in Ballygalley, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. They consist predominantly of flakes and un-reworked lumps and cores, with only one complete tool being found. Since no sources of workable pitchstone exist in Ireland, the source must have been the abundant pitchstone volcanic rocks found on the Hebridean Islands of northwest Scotland. The composition of the glass from a number of artefacts is highly siliceous, indicating that they were derived from pitchstones on the Island of Arran; pitchstones from all other Scottish locations are less silica-rich. In addition, analysis of pyroxene and amphibole microcrystallites within the pitchstone suggests that the Corriegills area of Arran is the most likely source of the Ballygalley artefacts, although the precise outcrop has proved elusive. These finds, and others across Ireland, show that raw materials were being transported and probably traded over considerable distances despite there being suitable alternative sources of material for making tools (flint, etc.) available in the local area. This suggests that the pitchstone had a very specialist use. (C) 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)219-236
Number of pages17
JournalGeoarchaeology-An International Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002



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