It has been a year in which many headlines have focussed on football: the dramatic fall and rise of Rangers, Champions League triumph for Celtic, financial turmoil at Hearts, and the need for radical reform in the game's structure.

The introduction of Graham Spiers as a regular columnist on HeraldScotland has given us a series of well-informed opinion pieces, analysing and explaining the background to all these developments.

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However, one article stood above them all to become our most read story of 2012: the tale of American fundamentalist schools using Nessie to disprove the theory of evolution.

The story captured readers' imaginations and went viral after appearing on the site in June.

Elsewhere, readers liked our coverage of a report that could have cleared Abdel Baset ali al-Megrahi of the Lockerbie bombing, and the sudden death of QC Paul McBride in Pakistan.

On a lighter note, there was much interest in our lists of Scotland's most influential women, top Tweeters, and up-and-coming actors.

The success of Shetlander James Morton in this year's Great British Bake Off proved popular, and a sneak peak at the highly anticipated Chanel show in Linlithgow was also very voguish.

Here are some of our top 20 reads from 2012: