Burnt bone is key find at Staffin archaeological dig

Date:

Share post:

An archaeological excavation in Staffin has yielded a fragment of worked bone, and several hundred flints, which could provide further clues about life in the area 8,000 years ago.

Burnt bone is key find at Staffin archaeological dig
The bone found during the Staffin dig 
[Credit: Staffin Trust]

The discoveries were made during the dig in September as University of the Highlands and Islands archaeologists investigated a suspected Mesolithic building by Staffin Bay. While the structure is expected to be confirmed as post-medieval the discovery of other material, including the possible bead which was recovered from material below it, which could offer a fuller picture of the area’s hunter-gatherer period.

The worked bone is 12-mm long, burnt, and appears to have been deliberately shaped at one end and perhaps drilled at the other, although this could be a fracture break during burning. It could have been a toggle or bead, perhaps worn on an item of clothing or part of a necklace if the drilling is authentic, or part of a burnt bevel-ended tool. Further analysis is required by UHI.

The community-centred excavation captured local imagination and more than 200 people visited the five-day dig called Fo foid na time (Under the layers of time) which was a collaborative project between the Archaeology Institute UHI and the Staffin Community Trust (SCT). There were 10 local volunteers and pupils from Staffin and Kilmuir primary school were involved in the dig and used a range of techniques to investigate the site.

Dan Lee, UHI lifelong learning and outreach archaeologist, said the site may have been one of several along Staffin Bay where hunter-gatherers congregated and worked stone, perhaps exploiting resources such as fish and mammals at the mouth of the Kilmartin River.

Mr Lee said further excavations, which could investigate if hearths or structural evidence survived, would help define this period of activity at the site. “Although the structure did not turn out to be prehistoric, it has protected significant evidence for Mesolithic activity below it,” said Mr Lee. “Hopefully we have enough material for radiocarbon dates and further excavation would be useful to better define the extent of the site. The UHI Archaeology Institute looks forward to working with Staffin Community Trust on future phases of the project”.

SCT director Dugald Ross, who had monitored the site for several years, said: “The excavation has given us the opportunity of adding to our knowledge of early habitation of Staffin and although the circular foundation now appears to be a later date than initially thought the lower levels have yielded material which is typical of the first groups of people to have arrived in Scotland after the last Ice Age.”

SCT would like to thank the Garafad township and Kilmuir Estate for permission to carry out the excavation. The project was funded by the Scottish Funding Council via Interface Scotland, Highland Council and the Carnegie Foundation of New York.

Archaeological geophysics – resistance survey and ground penetrating radar – defined the structure wall and internal area, and also picked up nearby lazy beds. Topographic survey was used to create a contour plan. Test pits were dug to the south of the site and contained numerous flints in the topsoil showing that Mesolithic activity may have occurred over a wide area. Activity focused on a slight promontory as several hundred flints, including flakes and tools such as scrapers and blades, and the cores used to knap them, were found in an old topsoil horizon below the structure. The majority of the assemblage is made up of waste flakes or debitage.

Source: Staffin Community Trust [October 02, 2015]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

Inscribed Roman stone monument found in Serbia stolen after 24 hours

The National Museum in Belgrade has reported the theft of a recently discovered Roman stone slab with an...

‘Majestic’ Roman villa discovered in Amyntaio, Northern Greece

For anyone visiting northern Greece, there will soon be a new “must visit” on the cultural itinerary. The...

Ancient DNA reveals role of Near East and Egypt in cat domestication

DNA found at archaeological sites reveals that the origins of our domestic cat are in the Near East...

1,000 year old skeletons and silver coin found in NW Iceland

Skagafjörður in North West Iceland has been the site of extensive archeological research over the past 20 years....

Mapping the Maya: Laser technology reveals secrets of an ancient civilization

The steamy jungles of northern Guatemala don't reveal secrets easily. For centuries, the overgrown landscape has protected most...

French archaeologists restore three Sudanese artefacts

A team of French diggers has restored three Sudanese artefacts, including a 3,500-year-old wall relief, and handed them...

Tunnel, chamber discovered beneath Mexico’s Pyramid of the Moon

Experts have discovered a tunnel leading to a chamber that was possibly used for funeral rituals beneath the...

Early human migrants followed lush corridor route out of Africa

An international team of scientists has found early human migrants left Africa for Eurasia, across the Sinai peninsula...