Headlines were made this week after it was announced that prehistoric animal carvings have been discovered in Kilmartin Glen, Argyll.
The deer carvings, the first clear examples of their kind from the Neolithic to Early Bronze Age in the UK, are a fresh reminder of just how long Scotland has been inhabited.
Evidence of early human habitation can be found all over the country.
From the remote isles of the north to the rolling hills of the Lowlands, Scotland has an abundance of Neolithic sites you can visit.
All of them predate the founding of the nation, and some of them were even constructed before the pyramids.
Peter Irvine, author of travel guide Scotland the Best, takes a look at 15 of the best prehistoric sites to visit in Scotland.
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1. Skara Brae - Orkney Mainland
Excellent visitor and orientation centre. Can be a windy (500m) walk to this remarkable shoreline site, the subterranean remains of a compact village 5,000 years old.
It was engulfed by a sandstorm 600 years later and lay perfectly preserved until uncovered by the laird’s dog after another storm in 1850.
Photo: Jane Barlow
2. The Standing Stones of Stenness - Orkney Mainland
Together with the Ring of Brodgar and the great chambered tomb of Maes Howe, all within 18km of Kirkwall, these are as impressive ceremonial sites as you’ll find anywhere. The stones are from the same period as Skara Brae. The individual stones and the scale of the Ring are very imposing and deeply mysterious.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
3. The Callanish Stones - Lewis
The best preserved and most unusual combination of standing stones in a ring around a tomb, with radiating arms in cross shape. Predating Stonehenge, they were unearthed from the peat in the mid-19th century and are the Hebrides’ major historical attraction. At dawn and dusk, hardly anyone else is there. Visitor centre has a good caff.
Photo: Visit Scotland
4. Clava Cairns - nr Culloden
Here long before the most infamous battle in Scottish and other histories; another special atmosphere. They’re really just piles of stones but the death rattle echo from 5,000 years ago is perceptible to all, especially when no one else is there. Remoteness probably inhibits New Age attentions and allows more private meditations in this extraterrestrial spot.
Photo: Creative Commons