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HomeNewsArchaeologists stunned as Scottish history 'needs rewriting' after bombshell discovery

Archaeologists stunned as Scottish history 'needs rewriting' after bombshell discovery


A new study found that the Scottish Islands were likely colonised by women rather than men. By studying the ancient DNA from human remains on the Orkney Islands, the researchers found that during the Early Bronze Age, most of the population was replaced through immigration, but some descendants remain. During the Neolithic period, Orkney was a hugely influential cultural centre as farming first took hold around 5,000 years ago.

However as the rest of Europe moved into the Bronze Age over the next millennium, the island found itself being left behind.

Archaeologists have had a hard time understanding exactly what happened as the remains from this period are scarce.

However, scientists from the University of Huddersfield have made a breakthrough discovery on the islands’ fall from grace.

Study author Professor Martin Richards said: “This research shows how much we still have to learn about one of the most momentous events in European prehistory – how the Neolithic came to an end.”

According to the study, Orkney was a major cultural centre during the Neolithic, 3800 to 2500 BC.

At this time, farming flourished, permanent stone settlements and chambered tombs were constructed, and long-range contacts were sustained.

Remains from Bronze age humans discovered at an archaeological site called the Links of Noltland on the remote island of Westray were analysed by the researchers.

DNA revealed most of the island’s population had been replaced during the Early Bronze Age through large-scale immigration.

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Most of them were however replaced during the Iron Age and today, they are “vanishingly rare”.

The long term stability and self-sufficiency of farming on the Orkney islands could explain why they bucked the trend, the researchers say.

DNA suggests men living on the islands were already heavily involved in farming by the peak of the Neolithic period.

This meant they managed to weather the ‘recession’ which gripped most of Europe at the dawn of the Bronze age and maintain their grip on the population.

The findings suggest Orkney was less insular than previously thought, with ongoing negotiations between local men and newcomers over many generations.

Co-author Dr George Foody said: “This shows that the third-millennium BC expansion across Europe was not a monolithic process but was more complex and varied from place to place.”

The findings were published in the journal of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).



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