Staffin archaeological excavation: Day Four Diary

Fo fòid na tìme’ – Staffin Community Trust and the UHI Archaeology Institute are holding a five-day archaeological excavation by Staffin Bay. It is the first excavation in Staffin for more than 20 years and SCT views the dig it as an important project, both culturally and economically, with the Staffin community at the heart of it. The excavation runs from Wednesday, September 9 to Monday, September 14. Local volunteers are participating, school pupils have been involved and there was a community open day on Saturday. 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 are some images and a summary of the fourth day’s work written by UHI’s Dan Lee.

Day 4:

“Well, as we were reliably informed, it does rain on Skye! After four days of sunshine we had rain today, followed by midges in vast numbers that seemed keen to make up some lost time. That said, good progress was still made at the site. The trench was planned and two sections opened up across the internal deposit and external rubble. Inside, a promising dark deposit contained little cultural material, apart from numerous flints, and does not appear to be floor deposits within a domestic structure. No hearth or in-situ burning has been found. Externally, the wall overlays a buried topsoil horizon, and the structure is looking more recent in origin. Even so, a substantial flint assemblage has been recovered from deposits associated with the structure, which may have disturbed a Mesolithic site during construction. It is still possible that we will find in-situ Mesolithic remains below.

“The site was certainly used for repeated episodes of stone working, which seems to have occurred over a wide area, but mainly concentrated on the slight promontory. This spot has good views over the river mouth and beach and it is easy to see why it was attractive to Mesolithic hunter gatherers. Perhaps the environmental samples will contain some hazel nutshell that could be radiocarbon dated.

It was the community open day today and lots of folk from Staffin came out to see the site, including some of the school children who visited on Thursday. Day off on Sunday, and back to finish off on Monday.”