Scotland’s first people exhibition


Poster advertising the exhibition at Moat Park
Poster advertising the exhibition at Moat Park

We have completed an exhibition in the Moat Park Heritage Centre in Biggar. This exhibition showcases the finds and the story of the earliest people of Scotland – the Reindeer Hunters from 14,000 years ago.

The story is being told with maps, photos and of course a very nice selection of the finds. The finds on display are only a small selection of the ones found. So anyone who sees them can appreciate the tremendous quality as well as quantity.

On show are the distinctive flint tools found on the site that identified the 14,000 year old reindeer hunters.

Walking from Denmark, Holland and Germany over what is now the North Sea and following the huge herds of migrating reindeer. The hunters set up their camps along the way and Howburn was one of these. Their camps are likely to have been used on several occasions, which accounts for the many flint tools left behind.

Within this one field at Howburn, on the outskirts of Biggar evidence from every pre-historic period has been found. This can be seen from the lithic on display – found by field walking and excavation.

Howburn pre-history:

  • an Iron Age pit, dated to AD140;
  • a Bronze Age arrowhead;
  • Neolithic pottery as well as arrowheads and other distinctly neolithic tools;
  • Mesolithic tools including microliths; and
  • The Late Upper Paleolithic tools.
Visitors viewing the illustrated panels
Visitors viewing the illustrated panels

Other sites like Howburn

The only other sites like this one are found in Europe. Sites as old and even older are found in England, but these were occupied by different people to those that came to Howburn, they are identified by their different types of flint tools.

Ice Ages

There have been numerous Ice Ages but the last one in the northern hemisphere ended around 15,000 years ago. At that time most of Britain and Europe were under a thick sheet of ice, in some places more than a mile deep. About a thousand years later the ice receded due to rapid climatic warming. Very quickly vegetation established itself and with vegetation came animals – horse, reindeer and in some places woolly mammoth and many other species. The nomadic hunters followed their prey.

Visitors viewing the exhibition
Visitors viewing the lithics at the exhibit, Moat Park Heritage Centre, Biggar

The warmer climate only lasted a few centuries. A mini ice age returned to Scotland, known as the Loch Lomond Re-Advance.

14,000 years ago the North Sea was dry land, joining Britain to Holland and Denmark as vast quantities of water were locked up in the receding ice sheets. It was only later when the ice age was completely over, the sea levels rose, creating Britain and Ireland as islands.