Back to What's The Story?

Adventurous Archaeology

Mesolithic Selkie

Adventurous Archaeology

Folklore bleeds into reality as human hands are buried alongside seal flippers. What did the first people really experience when they arrived in Scotland?

We know relatively little of how the first people who hunted, fished and gathered plants in Mesolithic Scotland thousands of years ago saw the world. At sites like the Cnoc Coig shell midden on Oronsay, archaeologists found the bones from human hands buried alongside those from seal flippers. Seals play an important role in Scottish folklore and myth, like the stories of selkies, and it is tempting to see a prehistoric precursor existing thousands of years ago.

Spear

Barbed points made of bone were used over 10,000 years ago to catch sea-life. This illustration has been modeled on the beautiful example found in 1895 in the River Dee, near Kirkcudbright.

More

Hazelnuts

A mainstay of the Mesolithic diet were foraged foods such as hazelnuts. Archaeologists have found them in huge quantities at sites like Staffin Bay on Skye. They were roasted and probably made into some sort of porridge. Feeling hungry?

More

Boat

Mesolithic people would have travelled a lot by water using dug-out wooden canoes or boats made from stretched out animal hide.

More

Never Miss Out