The oldest and best known Stone Age settlement in Lofoten is Storbåthallaren on the southern shore of the Nappstraumen strait.
The settlement lies beneath a large protruding rock that ends up as a cave and was a very suitable starting point for hunting and fishing.
Extensive excavations have documented the fact that fish constituted these people’s staple diet. But in addition to the bone remains of cod, ling, saithe and tusk, archaeologists have also found the bones of a number of birds, including the now extinct great auk.
They also found bones from deer, fox, wild reindeer and beaver. The latter two species indicate that there must have been considerable forests in the region about six thousand years ago. The Stone Age people also ate considerable amounts of shellfish and berries.
In the more recent layers of earth in Storbåthallaren, bones from cows and sheep have been found, suggesting that some kind of agriculture was practised there. Pollen analyses indicate that cattle farming arrived in Lofoten as early as 5,500 B.C.
Cattle farming was possible here because kelp and seaweed were used as fodder during the winter. Pollen analyses also tell us that the first corn was cultivated in Lofoten about 1700 years B.C.
In 1987, cave paintings that scientists believe to be 3000 years old, were found in Refsvikhula Cave on the far side of Moskenes. The paintings, or matchstick drawings, portray people and are 30 to 40 cm in height.
These matchstick men were possibly drawn for use in a ritual or religious context. Similar paintings have been found in three other caves on the islands of Røst, Værøy and Moskenes, a fact that may suggest the existence of a religious community in the area.