Early Norsemen in Scotland
- Norse code taps back 9000 years to life in Highlands
ARCHEOLOGISTS have discovered the remains of a 9000-year-old
community that shows Scotland's earliest settlers may have been of
The site, halfway up the 4000ft Ben Lawers in Perthshire, has
uncovered a range of flints and tools almost identical to those
originally created in Norway. However, it came as a surprise.
Dr John Atkinson, of Glasgow University, was leading a five-year
project to excavate the area and was working on another site at the
"We were looking at structures relating to the 1570s when we dug a
bit deeper and stumbled upon the site," he said.
"It is the earliest inland site and certainly the first highland
settlement to have been found in Scotland."
He believes the discovery shows settlers were living on the mountain
range some 10,000 years ago after the glaciers receded. More than
9000 pieces of material have been found, and the head of Glasgow
University's archeological research division believes historians will
be forced to reconsider what was previously taken for granted.
"We found flints, blades and lots of quartz debris from where they
had obviously tried to repair their tools," said Dr Atkinson.
"We believe they came inland from the coast - which was the only
place they could have found the flint - to hunt deer through the
valley. The similarities between their tools with those found in
Norway is very exciting."
The comparisons point to the theory that Scots fled east to Norway at
the onset of the ice age, but came back in surges to repopulate the
country once the glaciers had melted.
Archeologists have only discovered scattered settlements before the
Ben Lawers find, most of them based around the coastline and
lowlands. However, the new site has led historians to believe the
first settlers may well have been far more advanced than was once
thought, able to adapt to the inhospitable climate of the Highlands.
The discovery comes after a recent increase in funding to protect the
natural landscape of Ben Lawers. The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded an
additional £1m to the National Trust for Scotland in June to assist a
five-year programme of repairs on Ben Lawers, Glencoe and other
mountains. The project is designed to improve public walkways, and at
the same time, preserve the land.
The five-year Ben Lawers historic landscape project started in 2002,
aiming to coordinate wide-ranging studies into human influence on the
landscape of North Lochtayside. Information in the field is being
collected through detailed topographic and underwater surveys,
excavations, and environmental and scientific studies.
- Dec 23rd