A Lateglacial archaeological site in the far north-west of Europe at Rubha Port an t-Seilich, Isle of Islay, western Scotland: Ahrensburgian-style artefacts, absolute dating and geoarchaeology
© 2015 The Authors.The exact pattern, process and timing of the human re-colonization of northern Europe after the end of the last Ice Age remain controversial. Recent research has provided increasingly early dates for at least pioneer explorations of latitudes above 54°N in many regions, yet the far north-west of the European landmass, Scotland, has remained an unexplained exception to this pattern. Although the recently described Hamburgian artefacts from Howburn and an assemblage belonging to the arch-backed point complex from Kilmelfort Cave have established at least a sporadic human presence during earlier stages of the Lateglacial Interstadial, we currently lack evidence for Younger Dryas/Greenland Stadial 1 (GS-1) activity other than rare stray finds that have been claimed to be of Ahrensburgian affiliation but are difficult to interpret in isolation. We here report the discovery of chipped stone artefacts with technological and typological characteristics similar to those of the continental Ahrensburgian at a locality in western Scotland. A preliminary analysis of associated tephra, pollen and phytoliths, along with microstratigraphic analysis, suggest the artefacts represent one or more episodes of human activity that fall within the second half of GS-1 and the Preboreal period.