Research at the Mesolithic settlement at Storakaig has enabled this significant archaeological site to be dated to 5800 years ago. This puts it at the boundary between the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods when the shift from hunter-gatherer and farming lifestyles occurred, and is considered to be the most important cultural and economic transition in British prehistory.

Analysis of samples recovered during excavations by the University of Reading in 2010 and 2011 identified a number of activities which took place at the site including making stone artefacts, hunting and butchering game, roasting hazelnuts and burning bone.

The location of the settlement provides outstanding views across the landscape suggesting that is was positioned to watch for game, while having access to a wide range of wild resources. It appears to have been immediately next to a fresh-water mire, extending the range of plant foods, while the nearby Loch Bharradail would have enabled fishing and hunting for otters. The coast was nearby with the presence of teeth from wrasse indicating that sea fish had been brought to the site.

Radiocarbon dating suggests that the settlement was repeatedly used, it being a favoured location in the landscape, probably one of several in this vicinity of Islay. Each period of occupation was most likely short, perhaps a few weeks, with the site being part of a settlement system that encompassed not only Islay but also the adjacent islands of Jura, Oronsay, Colonsay and the mainland.

On-going research supported by Islay Heritage involves investigating Storakaig’s relationship to other Mesolithic and Neolithic sites within this region, in order to reconstruct the settlement pattern at this critical juncture between the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods.