The second season of the Kilwinning Community Archaeology Project continued last week, and the team excavating the trench within the chapter house recovered an unusual find for a medieval abbey; a flint leaf-shaped arrowhead. The whole surface has been retouched to create the slender, thin symmetrical form, and has been provisionally dated to the early Neolithic (c.3500 BC) when the first farmers arrived in Scotland. But the reason why this arrowhead was within the chapter house may have had little to do with those early settlers.
Neolithic flint arrowheads, during the Medieval period, were termed 'elf-shot' or 'elf-arrow-heid', as they were thought to have been projectiles used by elves to cause illness in people or animals. It was also believed that an elf-shot was capable of curing these illnesses - a fairy object used against a fairy illness. So this arrowhead may well have been used as an amulet to protect the wearer from illness or treat the afflicted.
Another discovery was made in the same trench as the team exposed the underlying subsoil. Within the bed of the chapter house trench they identified a simple grave containing an undisturbed skeleton. The depth and character of the burial all suggest a Medieval grave, which has survived the 1960s excavations. These are most likely the remains of one of the abbots of the Abbey, as only such important figures were buried in the chapter house. Is it too much to imagine that the Neolithic arrowhead was a protective elf-shot amulet taken to his grave by one of the abbots of Kilwinning?