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The Palaeolithic or Old Stone Age covers the archaeological period from the earliest beginnings of human kind through to the end of the last ice age. The period lasted for many several million years and has been subdivided into lower, middle and upper Palaeolithic.

There is archaeological evidence in southern England for the presence of early man dating back to ca. 800,000 years. Evidence in southern Britain survives because it remained ice free during the last (Devensian) ice age.

In contrast  northern Britain was ice covered during the Devensian Ice Age  and it is probable that much, if not all, evidence of middle Palaeolithic occupation  was destroyed by the ice.

There is little or no incontrovertible evidence for lower and middle Palaeolithic activity in Scotland, however Hamburgian tanged points (12,300 to 11,900 BC) are known from Bigger in Southern Scotland and similar points are known from Orkney; areas that may have been ice-free during the later Devensian as the ice retreated. During the peak of the last ice age the bed of what is now the North Sea was dry land. It is possible that hunting groups may have followed game across the sea bed into Scotland but we have no incontrovertible evidence for this. We do know people were living in an area of higher land known as as Doggerland as recently as 8000 years ago after which time Doggerland became flooded by the encroaching waters North Sea.

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