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The Start of Scotland as a Country (Birth of a Nation)

Many text books start the history of Scotland with the arrival of the Romans in the AD 79, as if that were the start of Scotlands rich heritage. Whilst it is true that Agricola, a Roman general, was accompanied at the historian Tacitus, and provided the first written description of the people and of the region called Caledonia, it is clear that history doesn't start then.

The country we now call Scotland had been continuously, if sparsely, inhabited throughout its 4000 years, stretching almost halfway back to a time of the last ice age. The North Sea had not fully formed, but hardy communities of hunter-gatherers and semi nomadic pastoral groups had made settlements around the coasts.

Inland the countryside was thickly covered with dense forests, marshes and peat bogs. Wild grasses and heathers formed on the, still moving, hills and mountains. The land was rich in natural species such as bear, wolves, oxen and deer and provided rich pickings for these hunters and nomadic tribes.

Whilst life was not easy for these existing tribes, slowly waves of immigrants came up the shallow coasts of the North Sea and overland through the country which was to become England. These new settlers with their already tamed cattle and sheep and goats came from Europe, where Homo Sapiens had been established for nearly 20,000 years. Pigs and dogs may have become domesticated from the local wild stock and were often brought with them, rahter than trying to tame the natural species. However making a home in what was still a densely forested area was particularly hard for people equipped only with stone blades.

Even from the earliest times, the inhabitants of Scotland would have realised that they were part of a wider economic structure. As immigrants, they realised where they have come from and stone age man who realised the importance of travel and trade.

Indeed early inhabitants of Scotland may have had as many languages as those of New Guinea still do and the people who lived in stone built and stone furnished house's in Orkney may have had no kinship, nor indeed interaction, with those who lived in wooden lodges in the East and the Glens. Progress was likely to have been uneven as groups arrived from different starting points (countries) at different times.