The pigs at Dunlossit Estate are no longer present but they did leave a remarkable legacy. There was considerable excitement in the spring of 2009 when Donald James McPhee and Susan Campbell collected what they thought were Mesolithic stone tools from two locations on the Dunlossit Estate. The artefacts were on the surface, those at Storakaig having been exposed in the upthrow from a ditch and those at Rubha Port an t-Seilich as a result of ground disturbance by foraging pigs. The sharp eyes of Susan and Donald caused quite a chain reaction. Some of the finds were sent on for further examination and the results were exciting, they appeared to be from the Mesolithic, some 6,000 years old. A small-scale fieldwork was undertaken at Storakaig and Rubha Port an t-Seilich by a team from the University of Reading between 21 August and 5 September 2010 to evaluate their potential for providing new information about the Mesolithic.
A second excavation was started in 2011 at the Mesolithic site of Storakaig together wit the extraction of peat cores from Loch Bharradail which provided data for reconstructing the Mesolithic environment. This fieldwork was undertaken between 20 August and 2 September 2011 by a team of 20 archaeologists and student volunteers. The finds during both excavations had been quite astonishing and were also important to get a better understanding of the way of life of the hunter-gatherers who lived in Islay. In this period Steven Mithen (Project Director) gave a public lecture in the Natural History Field Centre in Port Charlotte about the Mesolithic excavation â€“ it was a sell out with over 100 people attending.
Three reports have been written of these excavations at Dunlossit Estate and Karen Wicks, Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology, University of Reading and Field Director of the East Islay Mesolithic Project sent me these three reports earlier this year to publish them on the Islay Info website. These reports contain some fascinating information and are a joy to read. I'm happy to say that the entire first report of the 2010 excavation is now online. The other two reports will follow shortly. Due to its length I've created six sections available via the links below. Enjoy, its a fascinating read!
East Islay Mesolithic Project