Living and Working on Islay

Although several of the 20-strong field team had extensive prior experience of excavating Mesolithic sites in the Hebrides, only Steven Mithen and his family had previously worked on Islay and knew the island. The team stayed in the Craigard apartments and Robolls Croft Cottage, Ballygrant. Although we were a little squashed, especially at meal times, this provided excellent accommodation with plenty of outdoor storage space for our equipment and room to process our finds. After a few wet days at the start of the excavation, the weather was simply fantastic - dry, warm and brilliantly sunny that made tea-break on site simply idyllic. The weather even tempted many of the team into the sea, which wasn't quite so warm!. The days-off and evenings were spent exploring Islay, including bird-watching, pony-trekking, distillery tours and enjoying the Gaelic folk music in the Port Charlotte Hotel.

We found that wherever we went on Islay, people had heard about the excavation and were keen to learn what we had found. Several groups appeared at the site for a tour of the excavation and as the field season came to its close, it was a particular pleasure to provide a presentation about our finds in the Dunlossit Estate Office.

Testimonials of some of the team members:

It was an absolute privilege to work so closely with the University of Reading's world class team of leading archaeologists, technical s pecialists, knowledgeable locals and bright students on the excavations at the Dunlossit Estate in summer 2010. As a complete novice volunteer, it was so rewarding to know that my very small contribution - hand-washing the artefacts - will help the team to complete its project and the people of Islay to better understand their heritage. Thank you to Professor Mithen and his team for making me feel so welcome - a real highlight of my year.
Richard Norman, (University of Reading Alumni Office)
  • My main activity on these beautiful wild Islay sites was wet sieving and washing, drying and identifying the Mesolithic artefacts for further sorting and cataloguing. I was also volunteered to make the breakfast porridge for the other 15 members of the team! During tea break a pleasant distraction was watching the Basking sharks circling below us in the Sound of Islay..
    Jim, Volunteer
  • Imagine isolating yourself on a remote island with fascinating archaeology, spectacular scenery, diverse wildlife and a friendly local community. Pretty much sums up my time on Islay.
    Rizwan Ahmad, (Department of Archaeology undergraduate student)

    Main Sections of the East Islay Mesolithic Project

    Islay History | Standing Stones | Finlaggan | Islay Carved Stones | The Campbells | Walter Campbell | John Francis Campbell | Islay Clearances | Leaving Islay | Islay Genealogy | Islay in 1703 | 1869 Baptist Letter | Islay Shipwrecks | Exmouth Tragedy | Troopship Tuscania | Otranto and Tuscania | Dougie MacDougall | Ferry History | Cultoon and Ballinaby | Sunderland Flying Boat Tragedy | Kilchoman Bards


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    About Islay - Places - Nature - History - Whisky - Accommodation - Activities - Travel - Events - Map Navigation


    Norman Newton - Islay guide
    A small book loaded with gorgeous photo's and practical Information. Lightweight and soft sided makes an ideal companion on Islay.
    More Islay books here...