Staffin archaeological excavation: Day 2 Diary

Fo fòid na tìme’ – Staffin Community Trust and the UHI Archaeology Institute are holding a five-day archaeological excavation by Staffin Bay. The community-centred project, which involves an 8-metre by 2-metre trench, 1x1m test pits and geophysics, will run from Wednesday, September 9 to Monday, September 14. Local volunteers are participating, school pupils will be involved and there is a community open day on Saturday. The Staffin Trust sees it as an important project, culturally and economically, for the district. 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 Trust would like to thank the Garafad township and Kilmuir Estate for their permission to hold the excavation. Below is a summary of the second day’s work in UHI’s Dan Lee’s Staffin project diary.


“Another day of amazing sunshine at Staffin Bay and the team opened up the trench across the circular structure. The two metre wide trench extends from the central flat area, across the remains of the wall and downslope to the north. Flint was found under the first turf, and this was a sign of things to come. Dozens of flakes and debitage were recovered from the topsoil which seals the site, echoing those found nearby in the cattle erosion scar. All deposits are being sieved onsite to recover the smallest flint fragments and a grid across the trench is used to assess the distribution. Once the topsoil was removed the wall, which consists of numerous rounded beach stones, was cleaned. So far, no pottery has been found and the jury is still out as to the date of the structure.

Staffin Primary School’s pupils and staff visited today and learnt about life in the Mesolithic. The children dug test pits near to the site and sieved for flints. Again, some were found under the first turf, along with numerous more, demonstrating that the Mesolithic element of the site continues beyond the structure. The children also learnt about geophysical survey and helped extend the survey to the south. There were also about 30 people who came to visit the site and find out more about what was being done. More digging tomorrow as we continue down inside the trench to further define the structure.”