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carpenter's axe” (see page 9). Indeed, a large number of these knives show more or less of a serrated edge which in some instances may have been due to re-sharpening the instrument.

(3) As to the antiquity of the find, the evident conclusion to be alerived from the association of so many of these knives and of so many ordinary stone axes of Neolithic types, with a saddle-quern, kneaded portions of clay, fragments of three coarse vessels, together with such abundance of peat-ashes and charred wood, is that it dates back to the Stone Age, whatever the chronological horizon of that period may be in these northern latitudes.

Sir Daniel Wilson, in his Prehistoric Annals of Scotland (vol. i. P. 183), gives the following information of the discovery of these curious knives in the valley of the Forth, which is the only recorded instance of their having been found outside of Shetland :

“ In the Shetland and Orkney Islands especially, stone knives are common ; and in other districts, knives of flint, styled by the Shetlanders Pechs' knives, are found. These are shaped like a shoemaker's paring knife, with the semicircular line wrought to an edge, while the straight line is left broad and blunt. Others are oval or irregular in form, and thinning off to an edge round the whole circumference. One of the latter, in the Scottish Antiquarian Museum, formed of a thin lamina of madreporite, was found at one of the burghs or round towers of Shetland. It measures 42 by 4 inches, and does not exceed, in greatest thickness, the tenth of an inch. Similar implements, in the collection of the London Antiquaries at Somerset House, are mentioned by Mr Albert Way, as probably the ancient stone instruments transmitted to Sir Joseph Banks by Mr Scott of Lerwick, in Shetland, and communicated to the Society, March 9, 1820. Sixteen were found by a man digging peats in the parish of Walls, Shetland, piaced regularly on a horizontal line, and overlapping each other like slates upon the roof of a house, each standing at an angle of 45 degrees. They lay at a depth of about 6 feet in the peat-moss, and the line of stones ran east and west, with the upper edge towards the east. A considerable number of implements, mostly of the same class, were found on the clay under the ancient mosses of Blair. Drummond and Meiklewood. Some of them are composed of slate, and others of a compact greenstone. They are

| The antiquities of stone and bronze found under Blair-Drummond moss were exhibited at a meeting of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland on March 13th, 1871, and I understand from Dr Joseph Anderson, who was present and examined the collection, that it contained 19 stone implements that could be mistaken for any of the Shetland knives. (See Proc. Soc. Ant. Scot., vol. ix. p. 179.)

from four to six inches long, flat and well polished. There were also along with them a number of stone celts and axe-heads, mostly made of the same hard greenstone."

Of the sixteen above referred to as being found in a peat-moss in the parish of Walls, two are in the British Museum and figured by Sir John Evans in his Ancient Stone Implements (figs. 262 and 263). Besides these there are several other specimens, from various localities in Shetland, preserved in the Museum. " A note attached to one of them,” writes Sir John Evans, loc. cit. p. 310,"states that twelve were found in Easterskild, in the parish of Sandsting. An engraving of one of them is given in Horæ Ferales (Pl. II. 15.)”

Mr J. W. Cursiter of Kirkwall, who owns a large and well-selected collection of antiquities from Orkney and Shetland, has kindly sent me the following notes on the Shetland knives in his possession :

“There are in my collection 21 knives whole and 9 portions, all from Shetland, and I know of none but sandstone ones having been got in Orkney. They are nearly all formed of quartz-porphyry, the exceptions being two of felstone, one of striped gneiss, and one of hornblendic gneiss. There are one or two specimens which my limited knowledge prevents my finding a mineralogical niche to put them in.

"Only one of those in my possession, so far as my notes show, formed part of a hoard, viz. one of five found at the back of the yard dyke, Scarvester, Sandsting, in 1885; the other four being in Mr Umphray's collection. Nearly all my specimens were obtained from crofters who had them in their possession for some time, and who as a rule found them in course of their agricultural operations. They are very averse to part with them, for such reasons as that they serve to avert lightning, that condensation on them foretells rain, etc. I send four outlines of my largest specimens to give you an idea of their size." Their dimensions are as follows: (1) 10} by 5 inches, (2) 8 by 57, (3) 7 by 5, (4) 8 by 41. No. 1 is semilunar, and all the others more or less oval."

Mr J. Goudie, Montfield, Lerwick, writing on March 3rd, 1906, informs me that he possesses ten specimens of the Shetland knives, of which the following particulars are known :

No. 1. This is the largest specimen I have seen, measuring no less than 13 in, by 6} in. It is semilunar in shape, and made of a dark grey, polished stone; found in walls. Nos. 2 and 3. Two of a group of five found under 6 feet of peat moss, near VOL. XL.


Loch of Greesta, Tingwall, and measuring 10 in. by 4} in. and 9 in. by 5} in. ; both are semilunar in shape.

Nos. 4 and 5. From Northmavine ; dimensions 6} in. by 4 in., and 5} by 4 in.

Nos. 6, 7, and 8. Three of a group of four found near Sandy Loch, Lerwick, and all measuring about 4 inches in length and 3 in breadth.

No. 9. From North Hammersland, Tingwall ; 5 in. hy 3} in.
No. 10. From Northmavine ; 4} in. by 3} in.

"These implements," writes Mr Goudie, “ share with the Celts a certain, though inferior, superstitious respect. They are frequently found in groups and usually at a considerable depth in the subsoil under the moss. Among those in my possession are two, found at Loch of Greesta, which are notched and flattened on the back, as if to be used with a shaft. When found they were placed on edge. Other two from Northmavine formed part of the Esheness group, the larger portion of which was secured by Mr Haldane, now in your possession. The very large knife in my possession, No. 1, was said to have been used for flenching whales.”

In addition to the stone knives in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries, London, already incidentally referred to, Sir John Evans states that there are some fine specimens from Shetland in the Ethnological Museum at Copenhagen ; and no doubt careful search would disclose the existence of a few more in private keeping.

Summarising the somewhat scattered details of the various discoveries thus brought before you, it will be observed that 10 were hoards, each containing from 4 to 16 specimens—79 in all. Of these, 25 are in the National Museum, viz. Esheness 7, Uyea 4, Modesty 14,—the other 34, except the few in London, and in the collections of Mr Cursiter and Mr Goudie, having been dispersed. The total number at present known may be stated in round numbers at 100, thus accounted for: 52 in National Museum, Edinburgh ; 30 in Mr Cursiter's collection ; 10 in Mr Goudie's collection; and 8 (approximately) preserved in museums in London and Copenhagen.

It may also be mentioned, as a point of further specialisation of these knives, that none of them is formed of flint; nor is there any record of any of them having been found out of Shetland, with the exception of the Blair-Drummond specimens (if such they were) referred to by Sir D. Wilson. The special purpose for which this class of implement was originally intende is still a matter of conjecture. It is clear from their

slender make and liability to breakage that they could only have been used for dividing soft material, skinning animals, etc. The common practice in Scandinavia in prehistoric times of depositing implements, weapons, and ornaments in lakes, bogs, and fields, as a religious offering to the gods, may suggest that some of the Shetland finds were of this nature; and this idea is strengthened by the careful manner in which the specimens in some of the hoards were arranged. I prefer, however, to side with the theory that they were the stock in trade of the natives, used in commerce, which their owners, in time of danger, had deposited for safety, and which for various causes had never been reclaimed.

The age of these unique objects is the only important question which now remains to be discussed. We have already seen that some of them were associated at Modesty with implements of the Stone Age, and, problematically, were contemporary with the period when a stunted arborescent vegetation obtained in Shetland -a period which must have been coeval with the great primeval forests which formerly flourished on the islands and mainland of Scotland, remains of which are still to be found in the peat-land moors of these regions. History records that these Scottish forests had not entirely disappeared when the Roman legions penetrated into North Britain ; nor are we without evidence to show that man and his works were contemporary with some of these forests, before they were overwhelmed with peat growth (Prehistoric Scotland, p. 36 et seq.). The hypothesis that these knives were in use during the Forest Age in Shetland does not, therefore, necessarily carry us back beyond the first two or three centuries of the Christian era. Another important factor in this problem is the relation of the knives to the relics found in the culture débris of the brochs, whose chronological range we know to extend for about a thousand years, beginning with the time of the final departure of the Romans from Britain. Notwithstanding the fact that Shetland contains close on a hundred brochs, more than a fifth of the total number in Scotland, it is a melancholy fact that not one has been sufficiently investigated to yield a collection of relics.

From the structural similarity of all brochs in Shetland,

and elsewhere, there is reason to believe that it was the same people who constructed them. Although no stone knives of the Shetland type have hitherto been found in any of the brochs investigated, it does not follow that they were not used by the people of the Shetland brochs. The spade alone can decide this question; and until this is done we have fair presumptive evidence for assigning these Shetland knives to the period which preceded that of the brochs.




In the report for the year 1903, the most westerly site in the northern portion of the Buchan district was at the Standing Stones of Auchnagorth, three miles to the west of New Pitsligo. For an area westwards of Auchnagorth measuring ten miles by four, there are no sites recorded on the maps. The absence both of cairns and of circles is very marked. Doubtless, this is in great part due to the highly cultivated condition of the land in that district.

In the district dealt with in our last survey, the results of which are contained in the present report, the recorded sites are fairly frequent; but, on the inajority of them, the actual megalithic remains are lamentably meagre. The district surveyed is a very wide and a very irregular one, and it will be most easily represented by being divided into four portions, viz.—(I.) Sites in Banffshire to the north-east of Huntly, and mainly in the parishes of Gamrie, Alvah, Boyndie, Marnoch, Ordiquhill, and Rathven ; (II.) Aberdeenshire sites in the parishes of Cairnie and Glass ; (III.) Sites to the north and the north-west of Huntly; and (IV.) Sites to the west of the river Spey, in Elginshire.

1 Proceedings, xxxviii., p. 281.

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