Nuts crack Mesolithic clues of Staffin’s past!

HAZELNUTS eaten by former Staffin inhabitants thousands of years ago were discovered from the area’s recent archaeological dig, Highland archaeologists have confirmed.

The exciting discovery has been made following the five-day archaeological excavation by Staffin Bay in September and promises to provide firm evidence about Staffin’s Mesolithic past. The joint University of the Highlands and Islands and Staffin Community Trust project was the first excavation in Staffin for more than 20 years and was visited by more than 200 people, including Staffin and Kilmuir primary school pupils.

The site may date back 8,000 years to the Mesolithic era when Scotland was inhabited by hunter-gatherers who lived off the wild resources of the land and sea. The dig, which was led by UHI’s Dan Lee and Tom Desaille and SCT’s Dugald Ross, yielded a fragment of worked bone, and several hundred flints, which could provide further clues about life in the area 8,000 years ago.

Dan has now revealed that UHI’s further investigation of the finds has uncovered a plethora of hazelnuts. “There is good news regarding dating the site,” said Dan. “We have found lots of fragments of charred hazelnut shells in the lower soil samples. They are the ideal thing to date as they have a short life span and were a Mesolithic favourite! There is so much material in the samples we took that we will not be able to process them all with the current budget, but all is pointing to lots of potential to go back for another phase and include them in that. We have what we need for now, to allow us to date the Mesolithic activity at the site.”