THE saying "every cloud has a silver lining" can be traced back to John Milton.

In his Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle (1634), he writes: "Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud / Turn forth her silver lining on the night?" Milton knew a thing or two about poetry, but nothing about large-scale roadworks. However, his neat turn of phrase might have been coined for the Dunragit bypass project, near Stranraer.

No-one likes the disruption that inevitably comes with major civil engineering programmes, least of all those who have had to endure the temporary traffic lights and reduced speed limits that have accompanied the £17.1 million A75 project. But the works have unveiled a remarkable treasure trove of ancient artefacts, which include the earliest known Mesolithic dwellings in south-west Scotland, believed to date back to 7000 BC. Among the discoveries are a rare 130-piece jet bead necklace from around 2000 BC, Bronze Age cremation urns and more than 13,500 Mesolithic flints.

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We are fortunate that many of these finds are to be put on public display. These works were, however, carefully planned. As Milton also said, luck is the residue of design.