Scotlands History

Staosnaig hazelnuts, Colonsay

Staosnaig hazelnuts, Colonsay

In 1995, archaeologists found evidence of very large-scale nut-processing, radio-carbon dated to c 9000 years ago, on the Hebridean island of Colonsay. Hundreds of thousands of burnt hazelnut shells were found in a shallow pit or midden (rubbish heap) at Staosnaig, on the east coast of this small island.

The scale and location of the activity is unusual, suggesting that the island community was trading processed hazelnuts with other island and mainland communities.

On a smaller scale than Staosnaig, there are similar hazelnut middens at Kinloch, on Rhum. Here too are stone artefacts which include sharp cutting stones and arrowheads known as microliths. These are made from bloodstone, a very hard local stone. A shell-midden has also been found on Rhum, at Papadil.

Midden heaps may not sound very exciting or appealing but archaeologists learn a lot about the lives of prehistoric people by studying the things they threw away on their middens.

  • A close up image of charred hazelnuts

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