By Neil Oliver
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Extra resources for A History of Scotland Look Behind the Mist and Myth of Scottish History
They would have carried the means to make fire. They wore jewellery and other symbolic items - totems declaring who they were, how they related to each other, how they mattered to each other. Most important of all, they would have carried in their heads the practical wisdom of countless generations of their forebears. On arrival in Scotland, after 8000 BC at least, they would have found themselves surrounded by natural riches beyond the dreams of avarice: animal prey of all kinds; wild foods of every sort.
But, after a few moments, Tom pointed out four little sub-circular patches within the plan that were entirely blank. Each was no larger than a beer mat and together they formed a fairly neat rectangle. So what? ‘The two larger ones are where his knees were,’ said Tom, pointing at the larger pair of side-by-side blanks. ’ All at once the pattern made sense. There on that patch of ground someone had knelt down for a few minutes to knap and shape a few stone tools. The tiny fragments were the debris left behind and, of course, none had landed on the four spots occupied by knees and feet.
Scotland has also shaped the story of the wider world. Scots have long been the world’s vagabonds, ‘the tattered outcasts of the earth’, and our very natures have dictated at least a few lines of the story of every other country on the planet. Apart from anything else, history is always family business - the good, the bad and the ugly as well as the downright shameful and embarrassing - and discussing it in public always leads to arguments. Scotland’s history, like every other, is an amalgam of fact and opinion - and there are at least as many of the latter as the former.
A History of Scotland Look Behind the Mist and Myth of Scottish History by Neil Oliver