Archaeologists to explore Staffin’s Mesolithic past

Archaeologists have teamed up with a north Skye community organisation to investigate a coastal site which could illustrate what life was like in the area thousands of years ago.

Staffin Community Trust and the Archaeology Institute from the University of the Highlands and Islands have announced a new collaborative archaeology project, which will take place next week.

The trust has identified a site just above the shore in Staffin Bay, which it is keen to investigate in order to enhance the Staffin Ecomusem project.

Mesolithic flints have been eroding from the edge of the Garafad Common Grazing for several years.

A sub-circular structure, which could be a house, also sits on top of the site, adding to the collection of prehistoric sites in the area.

The work will start next Wednesday (9th September) and continue until Monday 14th.

Geophysical survey and a small excavation will be used to characterise and date the site, helping to discover what life was like in Staffin during the Mesolithic period, some 8,000 years ago.

During the Mesolithic, Scotland was inhabited by hunter-gatherers who lived off the wild resources of the land and sea.

Dugald Ross

“Mesolithic potential is intriguing and exciting,” said Dugald Ross

The project has secured funding for preliminary investigations from the Scottish Funding Council via Interface Scotland, Highland Council and the Carnegie Foundation of New York.

There will be a community workshop on Saturday 12th September. Staffin and Kilmuir primary schools will also visit the site to get hands-on experience of geophysical survey and excavation. This will include digging and sieving spoil from test pits to find flint tools.

Staffin Community Trust director Dugald Ross said: “Despite Staffin having a wealth of prehistoric remains, this is the area’s first archaeological excavation in 20 years and its Mesolithic potential is intriguing and exciting.”

Dan Lee, Archaeology Institute UHI, lifelong learning and outreach archaeologist, said: “Excavations at Staffin Bay have huge potential, not only for the investigation of an important prehistoric occupation site, but also to enhance local education, engagement with heritage and development of the Skye Ecomuseum.

“The UHI Archaeology Institute is excited about the prospect of building a long-term partnership with Staffin Community Trust and exploring the archaeology of the Staffin area for the benefit of the community.”

Local volunteers are needed to be part of the team, and to book your place call the trust on 01470 562 464 or e-mail staffin.ldo@gmail.com.