Heat oven to 220deg and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Put flour, brown sugar and butter into food processor and mix until ingredients are fully combined. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Pulse until just combined.
Cut dates in half, remove stones and any stalk heads then add to the mixture and mix and pulse for a second or two – not too long if you want the dates to remain chunky.
As the dough will be quite sticky, rub flour on your hands then collect it into a ball and gently knead it into shape. Toss on a sheet of baking paper sprinkled with flour and shape into a rectangle about 3cm thick. Cut the dough in half longwise, then cut each half into four pieces. Transfer pieces to baking tray leaving room to spread, and bake for 10-12 minutes or until scones are a rich golden colour and sound hollow when tapped.
NOTE: If you don't have a food processor, rub the butter and flour together with tips of fingers then mix in sugar, buttermilk and vanilla until just combined. Cut dates up and add to mix, stirring to combine.