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Prehistoric Britain

The Oldest Site for Scottish Nuts

Edited from BBC News, 26 May 2001

Discarded hazelnut shells gave a group of archaeologists in 2001 who were working on a site in the north of Edinburgh the evidence they needed of the earliest people to have lived in Scotland.

They uncovered a temporary encampment in Cramond which was thought to be more than ten thousand years old. This placed it at the very earliest window of opportunity following the gradual retreat of the ice sheets of the most recent ice age.

In what has been described as 'the most important discovery for prehistoric Scotland', the remains were carbon dated to 8500 BC. This made the settlement almost twice as old as Skara Brae on Orkney (see related links in the sidebar for more on Skara Brae).

Stone tools and discarded hazelnut shells were among a total of three thousand artefacts to be discovered at the site.

Previous excavations at Cramond had uncovered a medieval village and a Roman fort, the latter of which included the sculpture of a lioness, but archaeologists stated that this latest discovery was the most exciting because it dated back to just after the most recent ice age.

Edinburgh City Council stated that the find made Cramond an area of exceptional historic interest. It was hoped at the time that artefacts from the excavation could be placed on public display later in the year.

As mentioned in relation to its age, Skara Brae on Orkney had previously been considered to be the oldest-known Scottish archaeological and settlement site.

Then, in September 2000, archaeologists found a farm near Cleave Dyke in Perthshire which was thought to have been six thousand years old - up to a millennium and-a-half older than the World Heritage Orkney site.



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