What stories were told here? This is what I wondered as I sat in a space where, in a time now lost, families had huddled together.

Radiocarbon dating of the hearth here revealed the site dated back to Neolithic times, although what was visible on the surface was possibly from later times.

The foundations of the old building were perhaps once a shieling, built over the settlements of previous generations.

Whatever its age, the hearth at its centre will have seen generations sit by its flickering flame and I pretended to warm my hands by it.

We were camping in Argyll, in mostly wet and windy weather, interspersed with the blessings of sunshine which reminded us, occasionally, of what was above the clouds. I’m not complaining; it was beautiful.

The morning shroud of mist gives the Highland hills a slow awakening, but then sparkles of sun break through, making the senses tingle.

I’ll never tire of the Highlands, although I had promised myself that I would never camp again, after waking up in a puddle after a storm last year.

East Lothian Courier: Tim reflects on the history of storytelling while visiting ArgyllTim reflects on the history of storytelling while visiting Argyll

At my age I reckoned I should treat myself to some greater comfort. But our limited budget and the kids’ love of camping meant that, once again, we were under canvas for our summer holidays.

Predictably, one evening a gale howled and the rain lashed our tent, which began to bend inwards from the force of the wind. But despite some scary moments, our old tent ultimately defied the elements and kept us safe. At such times, the importance of having a shelter is keenly felt, even if it is only made of canvas.

During the storm we huddled together, without internet or anywhere to charge our phones, without screens or even books to read.

So, for entertainment we were compelled to fall back on the traditions our Neolithic ancestors would have recognised; we told stories and shared anecdotes about the day, and tales from our memories.

The stories made us laugh, reminded us of previous camping disasters, and how we’d overcome them. The tales kept us together emotionally.

And that’s why, the following day, as I sat in the communal space once occupied by the ancient ancestors of the glen, I wondered what tales they had told each other when the wind howled outside their shelter.

READ MORE: Tim's Tales: What if historic buildings could speak?

The stories told would not have been just for entertainment, but also for survival.

Wisdom will have been passed in metaphor, potential dangers revealed to children in a story, which is the best way to make them listen and adhere to what keeps them safe.

Their storytelling will have woven a sense of community and belonging, to each other as well as to the land, and the place they knew as home.

Stories about the natural world around them will have given them an understanding of, and connection to, other living things and beings.

Such tales are still told in indigenous communities around the word. Wonderful stories in which animals are often the main characters, who teach us how to behave, how to love and have empathy.

There are stories in which the moon can fall in love with the sun; tales that tell of stars that feel lonely, trees that talk, and bees that fight for justice.

In all such stories, deep human truths are told. And here, in this old settlement in a Scottish glen, such tales would also have been passed on from generation to generation; told and listened to for thousands of years, but never written down and so now mostly lost.

But despite all the changes since the times people sat round this ancient hearth, we humans are still drawn to the power of a story, because we are always searching for meaning and understanding.

When we cry at a scene, we are connecting to our empathy; when a character in a story goes on a journey, our own sense of adventure is excited.

But now the flickering of a fire has been replaced by the flickering of a screen and we more often consume mass produced stories than share our own.

Nevertheless, a story told eye to eye, mind to mind and heart to heart still has the power to reach us in ways no other medium can.

We need this ancient art of storytelling as much as ever; we need the wisdom and connection it taught our ancestors.

That’s why I wished I knew what stories had been told around this old hearth.