FIRST SETTLERS IN SCOTLAND -- EVIDENCED BY 14,000 YEAR OLD FLINT TOOLS
Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest evidence of the presence of humans in Scotland with an assemblage of over 5,000 flint artifacts which were recovered in 2005-2009 by Biggar Archaeology Group in fields at Howburn, South Lanarkshire. Subsequent studies have dated their use to 14,000 years ago. Prior to the find, the oldest evidence of human occupation in Scotland could be dated to around 13,000 years ago at a now-destroyed cave site in Argyll,
Dating to the very earliest part of the late-glacial period, Howburn is likely to represent the first settlers in Scotland. The flint tools are strikingly close in design to similar finds in northern Germany and southern Denmark from the same period, a link which has helped experts to date them. The new findings were revealed by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, in her speech at the Institute for Archaeologists' annual conference, which is this year taking place in Glasgow. The definitive findings will be published next year in a report funded by Historic Scotland.
The hunters who left behind the flint remains at Howburn came into Scotland in pursuit of game, probably herds of wild horses and reindeer, at a time when the climate improved following the previous severe glacial conditions.
Glacial conditions returned once more around 13,000 years ago and Scotland was again depopulated, probably for another 1000 years, after which new groups with different types of flint tools make their appearance.
The nature of the physical connections made between the peoples in Scotland, Germany and southern Denmark is not yet understood. However the similarity in the design of the tools from the two regions offers tantalizing glimpses
of connections across what would have been dry land, now drowned by the North Sea.