THOSE who hail from a certain area of South Lanarkshire are fond of telling anyone who will listen that Biggar is better.

Now comes news that that opinion has been held for some considerable time.

Primitive tools dug up by archaeologists in fields at nearby Howburn date back to the very earliest part of the late-glacial period. Readers might be forgiven for thinking that refers to the winter before last, but these flint artefacts have in fact been dated at 14,000 years old, making them the earliest evidence of humans in Scotland.

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Historians say the similarity in the design of the Lanarkshire tools to those uncovered elsewhere in Europe offers "tantalising glimpses" of links between people across what would have been dry land, now drowned by the North Sea.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop yesterday announced about £1.4 million of funding for archaeological projects, adding that our heritage allows us to connect our past, present and future, and helps us to reflect on who we could be. Perhaps this has a certain pertinence at this point in our history when we are again examining our links with other lands.