A hoard of neolithic pottery and flint tools estimated to be more than 4,000 years old have been discovered near St Andrews University.
The find at Kincaple, three miles west of St Andrews, was made as engineers prepared to lay four miles of pipework to connect two parts of the university’s campus.
About 30 pieces of “grooved-ware” pottery and tools fashioned from flint were excavated in March last year.
Analysis of the tools reveals they had been used for stripping bark and skinning animals, among other tasks, and may have represented a precious toolkit for someone.
The flint itself is thought to originate from Yorkshire, leading experts to believe the people living in the era had wide-ranging contacts and were trading over considerable distances.
Archaeologist Alastair Rees, a consultant at ARCHAS Ltd, oversaw the excavation, identification and recording of discoveries from the dig.
He said: “These finds provide yet another piece in the jigsaw to help us reconstruct the mundane - as well as the more interesting - aspects of how societies interacted and travelled in ancient Britain.
“The artefacts provide more evidence of long-distance trade, contacts and, especially, ideas across the country.”
Initial analysis of the tools suggest they could hail from either the famous flint mines at Grimes Graves in Norfolk or from Yorkshire.
Their unusually large size and finely-crafted design led experts to believe their purpose was intended for rituals and not domestic use.
The “grooved-ware” pottery discovered alongside the tools has been found at digs across the UK, from Orkney to the south of England.
The pottery, which is distinctive and highly decorated, is also often associated with ritual deposition or offerings, experts said.
Further analysis, including radiocarbon dating, will now be carried out to give a clearer picture of the beliefs and behaviour of people from the era.