The stone age of Mt. St. Pierre (B)


Field prospections in the Mont. St. Pierre  region, west of the community of Visé,  gives some new information about  tool production activities and possible prehistoric settlement in this area.
The prospections had  begun in april 2008 and were completed in august 2011.
A part of the large assemblages from various locations are yet to be analysed {at Fexhe-Slins (B)}, by a simple MLA - approach.

Questions about possible prehistoric activites  at the Mt. St. Pierre
Since the whole area is a flint source area, the main question about  the Mt. St. Pierre area, is about  the  role this region played in the ( local, regional or extra-regional ) tool production activities of prehistoric man, during different stone age periods.
This, compared with comparative tool production activities in the wider area (e.g. the flint-mines  at Ryckholt (NL), Banholt (NL), Valkenburg (NL), and Rullen (B)).  In this way, the Mt. St. Pierre is regarded as a large flint mine- area, with related activities ( farming, settlement, hunting, gathering).
Other questions for  the prospections were:
- The detection of human presence for the different periods of the stone ages;
- The questions about the spread of  local activities in relation with the choice of the specific location between Jeker/ Geer and Maas/Meuse.
The Montagne St. Pierre is a local area south of the Dutch city Maastricht and north -west of the Belgian Wallon city of Visé (Montagne St. Pierre in google Maps). This area contains several sub -areas like the Dutch St. Pietersberg, The Belgian Wallon Heyoule,  the Eben-  Emael - Geer bank and  the Wallon and Flandres parts of Caestert (in French: Caster). The Caestert  (Caster) locus is the most important part for this article. The Montagne St. Pierre is located between the Meuse/ Maas  river and its affluent Geer/ Jeker.
Surface finds from Montagne St. Pierre are visible in the two local musea at Maastricht - Lichtenberg and (Grand-) Lanaye.  A Magdalenian site was detected near Kanne and excavated in 1985 (Vermeersch et al, 1985). A wider perspective about this upper palaeolithic site is given by Sano (2012), in his study on functional variabillity of the Magdalenian sites of North Western Europe.In the traceological investigations it was found out that sites in the different region were not used the same. The Magdalenian site at Kanne most probably was used as a seasonal camp and used for the production of blades.(Sano, 2009).
Other information about the stone age at Montagne St. Pierre comes from the excavations of Rooseens at Caestert / Caster in the seventies of last century ( Verhoeven , 2008). Finds at Caestert / Caster were limited to several flint artifacts from the Neolithic.(Roossens, 1973, 1975, Verhoeven 2008).

Montagne Saint Pierre - "St. Pietersberg"

The area of Mt. St. Pierre is located between the Maas/ Meuse river and the Jeker/Geer affluent, making this place an oblong formed remains of both Maas/ Meuse terrace and on the west side the Jeker/Geer terrace.
In the formation of this area we go back a 800.000 years, when the Maas/Meuse river flew over the highest points, over + 123 m a.s.l. ( highest point at south side of the Albert Canal), where it has left large gravel depositions during the early Pleistocene periods, mainly during the early Cromerian (800.000 - 600.000 BP). Ever since the first incisions of the Maas/ Meuse river, the area suffered from heavy erosion, now visible by the total lack of any covers at the cretaceous (65-80 million years ago) surface exposed at many places in the northern part of the Mt. St. Pierre, the Dutch St. Pietersberg.
The whole area has suffered from large disturbance, by means of underground mining activities (Caestert mergelgrotten, text in Dutch) for cement ( marl) and large loam pits ( ENCI , Marnebel and some smaller pits), from the construction of the Albert Canal, the Eben- Emael Fort area, the heap of D'n Observant, large building terrains, road structures etc. and not to forget, from the intensive agricultural land-use in the whole area, ever since the Gallo-Roman  period (e.g. Villa rustica at Eben) and assumed for the periods before (Bronze age - Iron Age i.e. Caestert).
So the  large scale processes of erosion, caused by large scale human activities makes it, the area is highly disturbed, and even the forests suffer from large to very large dolines, as a result of large scale underground mining of marl since the Roman period.
Some iron age - sherds found at Ceastert, are showing the top horizon of the assumed fortification has been used for the building of the steep seven meters high defense wall - system, where the top horizon has been placed at the bottom of the wall- so finds from the Iron Age are only possible, when we dig the whole wall. This evidence for inhabitation during the Iron Age is also confirmed by finds of charcoal/ burned loam, indicating an Hadrian's Wall Fortification for Caestert ( see also RAAP report 1769) It could also be possible the extra feature, found at Caestert served as the inner part of a sanctuary - so far the Roman period for this part of Mt. St. Pierre;
At the same time, there is evidence for more Roman presence in the southern part of Mt. St. Pierre, so heavy erosion was already caused by the cultivating of the land during the Roman period ( barley and wheat for the Roman soldiers, Maastricht serving as a "Horreum" ),leaving the Roman fortification of Caestert empty when Maastricht was fortified.

- In green the location of Montagne St. Pierre, with some of the main locations , used in the text. H1= Heyoule, MSP= Montagne St. Pierre, Lan = Lanaye, TC = Tranchée de Caster, PLC= Petit Lanaye Caster, KC= Kanne Caestert
Raw material sources and tool production at Mt. St. Pierre
At least 3 different established flint mines in the Mt. St. Pierre area made this area a nice place for the exploitation of the local flint. Neanderthals were already using the regional Hesbaye -flint of the Lanaye- type, as  noticed at Veldwezelt by Bringmans ( Bringmans 1995; Felder,1998)

Surface finds
During four years, the region of Mt. St. Pierre (Code: MSP) has been investigated by field prospections. The area has been subdivided into small search units: i.c. not only the arable fields, but also the woodlands and other parts of the Mt. St. Pierre were investigated. The aim was, to collect information about the presence of prehistoric men and to detect  the main activities at MSP during the different stone age periods.
Main questions were: how has the MSP - area  been used during the stone ages? Was there settlement at MSP? How is the position of this area compared with the adjacent area?
The  whole area  has been visited during field prospections in the years 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. The number of found artifacts still is unknown, but the purpose was not a quantitative sampling of the area.

The investigated area and a brief description of observations
Field prospections were not limited to cultivated fields.Also the adjacent slopes were investigated especially or some information about the geology of the area.
H1, Heyoule1; community of Bassenge, at the plateau near "Réserve naturelle Charles Tihon".
The name Heyoule possibly can be explained by "Hey Koule", referring the depression located at the "Hey"( Heathland (Bruyere).
At the plateau of Heyoule we find an old depression and nearby, directed to the river,  there is an outcrop of cretaceous bedrock, with the Lanaye -light grey flint, described as "St. Pietersberg 2"- flint, discovered by W.M. Felder in 1980. ( Marichal, 1983) This is the better quality flint, compared with the mines located more to the south, at Halembaye, where several pits down the slope show Neolithic activity, regarding several small tools found here ( Groen, 2012).
The wider area of Heyoule is showing  a large tool production activity due to this flint mines nearly at the top of the slope, and the production area was located nearby, by witness of the many flakes and debitage waste found in this particular part of Mt. St. Pierre. The large amount of adapted flint however was found at the west side of Heyoule, right at the top and the sloping west- oriented slopes. At several places, the cretaceous bedrock is visible at the fields.
The artifacts from this part of the Mt. St. Pierre are mostly of a Neolithic date, though at the fields in  the southern parts of  Heyoule also some Palaeolithic flint was found, regarding the thick white patina at the artifact's surface.
The numbers of tools found here was very low, except for the Mesolithic-Neolithic transitional phase, it looks like a temporary camp site was located here in this period. Identified tools from this assumed period are scrapers, micro borers and micro-blades.Impirted flint was found, possibly from the Rullen- location.
Looks like, the Late Mesolithic or Early Neolithic group(s) that stayed here ( in relation with the mining activities, as the Heyoule mines were for local use only...(?)) have also benefit from the availability of water, possibly in the form of a water containing depression or also a small spring in the direction of the Jeker/ Geer.
The Heyoule1 section is subdivided in sections "H2" "K""L" and "LSP".
At  "K", at the west side of Heyoule, some Upper -Palaeolithic tools were found.

- Axe, ( setup) found at Heyoule

MSP The Montagne St. Pierre area, located in the central part between "Rude de Garage"and Heyoule.
The highest part of the Montagne St. Pierre still is covered with loess.heavy erosion is visible at the east and west slopes. The east, Meuse river oriented slopes have the code "LAN", starting south of Heyoule, till the Rue de Garage. The west  Geer oriented slopes have the code  "EBE" starting from Heyoule till the Marnebel pit .
LAN ( oriented at Lanaye) LAN 2, LAN3, LAN5, LAN 77,
These fields usually are gravel containing near the edges. Some Late- Mesolithic finds ( small tools based on  micro blade technology)  could indicate a relation with Heyoule.
LTV (Lanaye Tranchée de Vigne) Two fields were located above the location known as "Tranchée de Vigne". These fields are partially disturbed by  the construction of the albert Canal.A part of an old water drain is still visible.The fields are partially covered with plowed gravels of the river Maas. A neolithic axe was found here at the higher part ( loess cover, other neolithic finds were found scattered at the field. No concentrations of flint artifacts. The artifacts are retouched flakes, scrapers with bifacial retouch ( with brown patina) smooth cortex (= fluviatile origin).
EBE (oriented at Eben-Emael) EBE`1, EBE3, EBE6
The fields in this part of the Montagne St. Pierre cover a large tool production activity zone, probably from the Neolithic, regarding the different tool cores found here.  Several Neolithic blade cores were found here, but no significant numbers of blades. At the Geer side of this area a large old pit is visible. It is quite well possible the used flint is derived from the nearby local pit, now used for longbow shooting. Retouched flakes are numerous, large tools were found ( also very large tools", oversized") suggesting woodworking  activities or so.
-Flake from EBE 5

Large numbers of "debris"and non- adapted  flakes, indicate the availability of the  large quantity of flint from the various mines. At the Geer / Jeker oriented slopes, the cretaceous horizons are exposed at several locations, so the flint could easily be cut out of the walls.
EBE 3 and EBE 5 are flint tool production sites.
TC, TC1 ( oriented at Tranchée de Caster, = Canal Albert)
This field is located at the highest point of the MT. St. Pierre, it measures above + 122 m.
TC is a field with mainly gravels. Only few artifacts were found here, In the adjacent southern part  of this field,  a tool production site has been detected ( TC1). Large cores were found here.
P/R/T/Z Fields ( near the Halembaye) 
In the southern part of The Montagne Saint Pierre area the locations P. T. Z are located, showing tool production, A local flint mine has not been detected , but must be found   more uphill the slopes of the Halembaye.
At location P mainly smaller tools were found. Location T and Z are tool production locations, as several cores and retouched flakes were found here.
PLC Petit Lanaye Caster; PLAC, PLCB PLCBB,PLCC, PLCD - sections
This location is very rich in prehistoric artifacts ranging from the Lower Palaeolithic till the late Neolithic period. The area has been used  during different periods. Lower Palaeolithic finds were found at locus PLCBB, in the form of one certain quartz pebble tool and two other pebble tools of which one is broken.
A Mesolithic site ( ca 30 x 20 m) was detected, a special article will be published about this ( in 2013). The Mesolithic was established by the use of very small tools/ blades, some microburin  based techniques and the different imported flint types. The mesolithic occupation fits in theassumption that sites in the region are located at calcerous soils, located (high)  above running water, at a spring location.
Palaeolithic finds were  discovered at PLCB,  while Neolithic finds come from the whole area.  At least two different Neolithic ateliers detected. The local used flint  comes from the Pietersberg -1 flint mine ( see in the Regional Lithograph library at this blog, by the type of Hesbaye flint) and can be recognized by the dark grey colors.
Different flint- types were found at PLCC, a mainly a reddish brown / grey  flint, probably belonging to a flint mine in the middle terrace.

Cores and tools from PLC Caster, Montagne St. Pierre

Late Neolithic polished axe, of local Hesbaye flint, from PLAC
Find from PLCB, re- adapted tool from an original axe, imported flint ( source unknown, but not regional). Possibly Neolithic.
-Regular flint tools from  PLC Caestert/Caster (1)

-Regular flint tools from  PLC Caestert / Caster (2)

The PLC location is showing an interesting pattern of round circle - shaped objects, seen by sattelite. These patterns are also visible in the autumn after heavy rainfall, by the growth of a different vegetation. The round shaped objects have a diameter of ca. 4 -5 m and could be interpret as excavation holes for flint ( see image below).

-a comparative image from the area near Eckelrade ( next to the crossing Eckelradeweg/ Valkenburgerweg at Eckelrade, community of Margraten.
-Blue triangles are representing flint cores
The field at Caestert with related features based on both Google Maps and field prospections.
The position of boulders / large stones in the field, during field prospections of 2007. A lot of large stones however have been moved from the field during plowing activities in 2008 and 2009.At the field large stones, with e.g. an adapted point are still visible in the field ( 2012).

At the plateau, depressions and sources existed, indicated by the the yellow arrows. These are west oriented. East oriented we find a former spring  at the south side of the field, this spring caused a big incision in the south-eastern direction, so against the stream direction of the Maas / Meuse river

Some personal notes, concerning PLC Caster
Blade-cores sometimes have the same appearance as the cores from the LBK, e.g. found at Irchonwelz ( see: Hofmann, & Bickle, 2009; Deramaix 1997). However LBK period there is confirmed by asymmetric triangles and pottery. At Maastricht -Cannerberg, some of the flakes the author found there, seems to have been made at Caster ( same Hesbaye =Lanaye  flint, same flake type). at the east oreinted hillslopes 3 artifacts were found in a gravel layer. These gravels come from the edge of the plateau. The artifacts were retouched pieces of fluviatile flint. Artifacts of a same type, same flint type, same period , are generally located in a certain limited area, so the plow has not moved the artifacts really from the original location. 
The dark grey type flakes, found at PLCB are found scattered over the field, uo toc ca 50 meters from the debiatge location. This would suggest an immediate use at the location. The main concentrations of artifacts were located at loc. PLCB, so in relation with the round shaped features, visible by Google Maps, and carefully interpret as being old pits with a cross cut of 4-5 m, used for (open air)  flint mining..(?) This would be comparative with e..g. the Rullen situation.(Vermeersch et. al 2006) - fig. 5.
The west oriented part of the field shows a quite different soil, a more brown - red, rather dry soil. In this horizon hardly any artifact was found. Artifacts of the southern part of the field come from a more expressive thick loesslayer, ( where hardly gravels are visible) and possibly can be related to the Late Neolithic period. The Mesolithic flint implements are made on local Hesbaye  flint, but also imported. Chestnut- brown flint occurs, the same type of flint in the form of microblades were found at the plateau near Rijckholt.

 KC  (Kanne-Caestert)
This field location is west oriented( direction Geer/ Jeker). A limited number of artifacts were found here, made on local flint.  This could be regarded as the continuation of PLC. In the forest a large boulder was noticed ( ca 50 x 60 cm).

EEF (Eben Emael Fort)
This is an arable field in the Military Domain of Eben Emael, part of the fortification during WW2,.
The prospection at the field  in this area was a control prospection, to see what has happened with the top horzions. The top horizons, even near an entrenched former combat artilery dome, still contain some Neolithic artifacts.

- Neolithic artifacts from the fort Eben Emael location. The second left is a part of a polished axe, made in local flint.

Some preliminary conclusions
The Montagne St. Pierre is a part of the flint rich Hesbaye region.  Large scale tool production made the Montagne St. Pierre an important  area , mainly during the Neolithic period. Rijckholt -flint tools were found at Lanaye Caster (PLC) and Hesbaye flint has been found at Rijckholt (NL).
Tool production activity zones have been detected at Heyoule ( code MSPH), at the riverbank of the Geer at Eben-Emael  (EBE6)/ Lava (EBE 3,EBE 5), at Caestert/ Caster (PLC), at Kanne -Caestert (KC) and at Lanaye (LAN 2, LAN5, LAN 77).
The large numbers of  retouched and discarded  flint flakes, found in this region, underlines the large quantity of  flint that was available. The numbers of retouched flakes and other tools ( i.c. retouched blades, points and drills) are suggesting a ( temporary) settlement in the area(?). Sometimes it looks like the production of debris was more large than the production of the tools. Some 15 blade cores were found, but only very few blades, so they were produced for use elsewhere.
The Mesolithic assemblage is mainly composed by flint implements and bladelets and some small core blades.Trapeze points were found, but no triangles. Probably we deal with a small camp. At some other locations ( Heyoule, LAN) small flint  implements were found, like small flakes with single sided retouch ( scrapers, knives, backed knives).

A further examination will follow. 
[ to be updated]


Allard, P. & Burnez -Lanotte, L Surplus Production of Flint Blades in the Early Neolithic of Western Europe: New Evidence From Belgium European Journal of Archaeology December 2005 8: 205-223 ( Surplus of debitage at Verlaine, Hesbaye)
Alerte   (1966) A la Montagne-Saint-Pierre.   Chronique de la Société Royale de Vieux-Liége, 2 (32): 153-154

Deramaix, I. (1997) Ath-Irchonwelz. Un habitat du Groupe deBlicquy. In M.-H. Corbiau (ed.), Le patrimoine archéologique de Wallonie, 180–81. Namur: Commission Royale des

Monuments, Sites et Fouilles.
Groen, L.J. (2012) article: in Regional Neolithic, Neolithic open air flint mining at Halembaye (Belgium)
Hofmann, D & Bickle, P  (ed.) (2009)  Creating Communities New Advances in Central European Neolithic Research ; ed. Oxbow Books and the individual authors

Lodewijckx, M. & Bakels, C.C. (2005)  The Interaction Between Early Farmers and Indigenous People in Central Belgium -article in Western european Archaeology (KUL) 
Lodewijckx, M. & Bakels, C.C. (2009): Frontiersettlements of the LBK in central Belgium PDF

Marichal, H., ( 1983) De exploitatie, de verspreiding en het gebruik van Valkenburg-vuursteen tijdens het Neolithicum in Zuid-Limburg, Nederland. Archeologie in Limburg (18) : 6-23.
Felder  W.M.   (1998) Overzicht van  de prehbistorische vuursteenexploitaties binnen het krijtgebied tussen Aken- Heerlen-Luik-Maastricht en Tongeren;  in: Rademakers, P.C.M. (red.) et al., De prehistorische vuursteenmijnen van Ryckholt - St. Geertruid. Nederlandse Geologische Vereniging, Afd. Limburg. 1998; 

MUSEUM: Saint Gorges-sur- Meuse (Belgium)  Municipal  Museum of Hesbaye archaeology 

MUSEUM Montagne St. Pierre, Lanaye (Maison de la Montagne St. Pierre expo)
Hoeve Lichtenberg - Sint-Pieter (Maastricht - Nederland)
Maison de la Montagne Saint-Pierre - Lanaye (Visé – Wallonië)
Musée du Silex - Eben-Emael (Bassenge – Wallonië)

Refernces / websites

Maison de la Montagne St. Pierre musée
St. Pieters museum op de Lichtenberg 
Roosens, H., (1973) Kanne: oude vesting. Archeologie 1973 (2): 97.

Roosens, H., (1975a.) Oude versterking te Kanne-Caster. Archaeologia Belgica 177:


Roosens, H., (1975b). Kanne: oude versterking. Archeologie 1975(2): 89.
Sano, K. (2009)  Hunting evidence from stone artefacts from the Magdalenian cave site Bois Laiterie, Belgium: a fracture analysis Nachweis von Jagd an Steinartefakten der Magdalénien-Höhlenfundstelle

Sano, K; ( 2012) Functional variability in the Magdalenian of north-western Europe: A lithic microwear analysis of the GönnersdorfK-II assemblage (PDF); Quaternary International 272-273,  264-274
Verhoeven, M.P.F. (2011)  Een aanvullende archeologische evaluatie en waardering van het plateau van Caestert (Riemst, provincie Limburg), RAAP-rapport 2162, Weesp.
Vermeersch, P.M.; Lauwers, R.; Van Peer, P.( 1985) Un site Magdalénien à Kanne Archaeologia Belgica Vol 1 pp  17-54

Vermeersch, P.M.; Chow, J.; Creemers, G.; Masson-Loods, I; Groenendijk, A.; De Bie, M. ( (2005/ 2006 ) Neolithische vuursteenontginning op desite van Rullen (Voeren, prov. Limburg) in:  
In 't Ven, Ingrid; De Clercq, W.Een lijn door het landschap. Archeologie en het vTn-project 1997-1998, Brussel


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