Some Scottish News & Views #78

This little effort is for the period ending Saturday 12th March 2011. In this issue I’ve been able to include a small named article which I think you will enjoy. - Robin

'Suicide Bomber' Swoop in Glasgow
Police are searching three properties and planning to interview more witnesses as a major anti-terrorism investigation continues following the arrest of a man in Glasgow in connection with the Stockholm suicide bombing.  The 30-year-old foreign national, said by neighbours to be a nursing student from Kuwait, was seized in a dawn raid yesterday after a month-long investigation, police said. He is being questioned at the high-security detention centre at Govan in Glasgow over allegedly aiding terrorists in Sweden.  Stockholm suicide bomber Taimour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, 28, who studied at the University of Bedfordshire, blew himself up and injured two people in an attack in the Swedish capital's shopping district last December.

Chief Superintendent Ruaraidh Nicolson, from Strathclyde Police, said yesterday's arrest under the Terrorism Act (2000) was part of an ongoing investigation that was "intelligence led".  He said: "It's very early in the investigation. It's been ongoing for just over the last month or so. We want to reassure the public we've no evidence whatsoever that there is a threat to Scotland."  Referring to the investigation, he said there was "absolutely no evidence" that there was a terrorist cell working in Scotland.  He said the nationality of the man being held was "part of the ongoing investigation".  A "substantial" number of officers were said to be working on the case, in co-operation with two other UK forces and several European law enforcement agencies, including in Sweden.

Colin McCashey, head of counter-terrorism for Scotland, anticipated other people would be drawn into the investigation.  He said: "I expect the investigation to develop when we speak to a number of potential witnesses who will be important in our investigation. "A number of witnesses will be interviewed by the police. That will help us understand the situation in Scotland better than we currently do.

New Bid to Transform Inverness City Centre
An ambitious new campaign to transform Inverness city centre into a magnet for retailers, business and tourists was launched on Monday.  The aim is to maximise the Highland capital’s natural assets including the River Ness and pave the way for new developments and cement its role in the north economy.  The sheriff and district courts could be moved from Inverness Castle to open it up as a visitor attraction.  The “carbuncle” former Crofters Commission HQ on Upper Bridge Street could be demolished and the vacant BT building in Friars Lane could be redeveloped.  And one of the project’s major goals is to increase the number of shoppers using the city-centre and help the “old town” compete with out-of-town retail parks.

Highland Council, in partnership with Inverness Business Improvement District (Bid), want the public, developers and businesses to help create a masterplan by setting out their views. Inverness Bid manager Mike Smith said it is vital the city makes the most of its riverfront and could take a lead from Dundee – which regenerated itself around Captain Scott’s Discovery.  He said: “We need to exploit our unique selling point which is our riverfront. We need to find these opportunities in our city-centre and put them into practice.”  Part of the brief will include looking at developments in other Scottish cities and finding out why investors are not coming to Inverness.

Highland Council’s development plans manager Malcolm Macleod said a vital part of the project would be assessing sites and working with potential developers. The former BT building is a very big and dominant building and there are opportunities coming up on that.

Unlike Edith Piaf, We Do Have All Kinds of Regrets - Sometimes By Iain MacIver
The start of another week and I can’t help wondering if we are going to have so many people saying they regretted their actions this week as we did in the last seven days. There were quite a few.  Phil Collins said he regretted being so successful, Ally McCoist and Neil Lennon regretted being idiots, John Galliano regretted being John Galliano and Charlie Sheen regretted, well, nothing yet. Maybe this week, but then again I’m not so sure. Not with those 24-year-old lassies still around him.

Strangely, I didn’t notice any footballers regretting what they had put on Twitter this week, but I suppose Ashley Cole has been busy with other things – like helping the police with their inquiries as to why he allegedly shot a work experience student with an airgun at the Chelsea training ground.   Also on the list of regretters is my good friend Mairi. She has a few regrets, all right. A pensioner who makes everyone giggle, it’s not what she says as much as the way she tells you all about the things that happen to her. She is a hoot.

Our Mairi really rues the day she went for a stroll down Francis Street, that sloping shelf of city and surety institutions that runs all the way down into the centre of Stornoway.  All of us who know her began to worry about Mairi a few months back. She just disappeared. No one had a clue where she’d gone.  When we hadn’t seen her for a couple of weeks, we checked all the places where poor folk can end up being forgotten about. She wasn’t at home. She wasn’t in the hospital. She wasn’t in the queue at the Francis Street post office. Well, it can get very long, that one.  It was awful. All her friends were very worried.

Now, good news. Mairi is back in town and looking good. When I saw her the other day, she was very chipper, although she is now walking with the help of a stick.  Where on earth had she been, I asked. Turned out she had been on the mainland with a relative after having a nasty accident a while back.  An accident? Aw, Mairi. You poor thing. What happened?

“It was awful, when we had the ice and snow,” she said. “I remember it was pension day. My legs went in different directions just before Christmas.”  And where did they end up? Oh, I see what you mean, Mairi. I thought . . . ooh, you poor thing.  “I am never going on that street again in the ice. I shall have to go to Bayhead post office instead. And I can get my sausages at Charley Barley’s at the same time, because the cars just aim straight for me when I try to cross the road to get them at Willie John’s.”  No, I don’t think the drivers are deliberately trying to mow you down, Mairi, but I see what you mean.

She’s been for a checkup and she is doing fine. But she told the doctor that although it was nearly three months since her accident she still felt peely-wally.  The GP asked Mairi if she had taken the medicine they gave her at the hospital and followed the instructions closely. She said: “I sure did. The label said ‘Keep Tightly Shut’.”

Someone else who had regrets was someone I bumped into again a few years ago – before Mrs X came on the scene and spoiled everything. I was looking up old haunts in Morayshire and, in the hotel, spotted a businesswoman I seemed to recognise. She did a double-take when she saw me, too.  Oh-oh. Not usually a good sign in my experience, but it was because we had met years before when we both were at RAF Kinloss. We had even stepped out together once or twice. Naafi disco, that sort of thing. Ah, those heady days.  Her life had changed. Turned out that, after the RAF, she had gone into the whisky business and was, by then, in charge of a small distillery. Gosh. How exciting, I declared. Nah, it wasn’t, she insisted. She was just a hands-on whisky maker and it was jolly hard work.  I was invited to come round the following day for a personal tour. Whay-hay, madam. See you in the morning.

It was, indeed, hard work. Everyone had to join in rolling these heavy barrels around. I was pewchled. But what yarns we had. Laughing and joking about our mutual acquaintances of yore.  She had done well in business. However, she had a regret. She regretted that she didn’t stay in the service. She may have become an officer and reached the dizzy heights of wing commander or group captain by then, she thought. That’s what she really wanted to do. Ah, what might have been.  Sadly, her relationships hadn’t worked out, either. She was living with her sister and her sister’s husband. She showed me the house where they all stayed. Never mind, eh. Who knows what’s round the corner?

I took a taxi back to the hotel and left her in the office. All these old memories, and everything, had given me a right warm glow.  Then, I thought I should have asked her out again. Why not? After all, I was a free agent myself. I wondered . . . So I rang her office. She was still there. I asked if her sister and brother-in-law were out that evening. Yes, she confirmed, there would be nobody home. She was just leaving the office and, well, that was all I needed to know. Result.

I jumped into a cab, grabbed a bunch of flowers at the filling station and raced up the path. I should have listened to what she actually said. There was nobody home – including her.  Ach well, it was really good to see her again after all those years.  

She was only a whisky maker, but I loved her still.

Death of Two Students Ruled An Accident
An investigation into the deaths of two Orkney students who died in a suspected suicide pact revealed they were actually involved in a “complex experiment that went very badly wrong". The case has now been closed by the Crown Office and there will be no fatal accident inquiry into the deaths of Robert Miller and Jim Robertson.  Their parents said at the weekend they had been “completely vindicated”, as they believed from the outset that the deaths were accidental.  In a joint statement, they said the decision by the Crown Office followed a “fair" investigation by police but what the two friends were trying to prove in the experiment would never be known.  The families of both university students have been told by the procurator fiscal at Ayr that the police have completed their inquiries and thoroughly investigated the evidence surrounding the tragedy.

The bodies of Glasgow University student Mr Miller, 20, and Mr Robertson, 19, an Edinburgh University student, were found slumped on chairs in a hotel room by staff at the seaside town of Ayr on June 9.  Mr Miller, from Finstown, was in his third year at Glasgow University studying maths and computer science.   Mr Robertson, from Stromness, was completing junior honours at Edinburgh, studying maths and physics.

Petrofac Boss Says Brent Surge Boosting North Sea Investment

Surging oil prices will encourage more investment in UK North Sea oil and gas production, the boss of global energy service firm Petrofac said yesterday.  Chief executive Ayman Asfari said the high cost of projects in the UK continental shelf compared with other oil and gas regions meant low commodity prices were a disincentive to operators.  The recent jump in the price of oil – to more than $115 a barrel for Brent crude – makes many more projects possible, according to Mr Asfari.  He said marginal new fields and mature assets deemed unviable previously were now more likely to be exploited as higher oil prices outweighed operators’ cost considerations, adding that, as a result, the North Sea market for Petrofac was looking good.  It was reported last month that a resurgent UK oil and gas industry was expected to deliver thousands of supply-chain jobs for the north-east this year.  Increased capital investment amid buoyancy in the market just now could lead to up to 15,000 people being taken on nationwide this year.

According to industry organisation Oil and Gas UK, spending on exploration and production in the UK continental shelf will soar to about £8billion this year, up from less than £5billion in 2009.  Petrofac is developing a gas-processing plant for Total Exploration and Production UK at Sullom Voe, in Shetland, after winning a £500million-plus contract for the work.  Mr Asfari said the seas west of Shetland were likely to yield other opportunities.

UK Supreme Court Must Not Override Scots Justice Says Law Chief
A former lord chancellor has spoken out against suggestions that new legislation could lead to appeals for Scottish criminal cases being heard in the UK Supreme Court in London.
Lord Falconer, the Labour peer who led the reforms that resulted in the creation of the Supreme Court, was reacting to fears expressed by the SNP, who have suggested such an approach would undermine the independence of the Scottish justice system.  Lord Falconer said: "I would be slow to propose it. I would tread warily in making such a significant change to the constitution of the United Kingdom without a genuine and widespread consensus on the matter.  We didn't do it in 2004-5 when we were drafting the Constitutional Reform Bill that set up the Supreme Court. We wanted to retain the High Court in Edinburgh as the final court of appeal in Scottish criminal cases.  What has changed between 2005 and 2011 to require the principle to be overturned?" Lord Falconer added that there was no need to change "the assumption that the final forum for criminal justice should, as a general rule, remain in Edinburgh".

At present, the Supreme Court is able to rule on cases where Scots law conflicts with human rights legislation.  In October, the Supreme Court ruled that Scottish police could no longer question suspects without their lawyer after upholding an appeal by teenager Peter Cadder.  It was able to overrule appeal judges in Scotland because the need to consider European human rights laws was written into devolution legislation. The UK government has drafted a new clause on the role of the Supreme Court into the Scotland Bill, which will set out the terms of devolved government.

Lord Wallace, the Advocate General, who represents the UK government in Scottish legal matters, has yet to publish details of his proposals but has insisted there is no question of a general right of appeal in Scottish criminal cases passing to the UK court.  However, the SNP has warned draft clauses suggest Lord Wallace wants the Supreme Court to be the ultimate court in Scotland.

Last night, the Scottish Government’s external affairs minister, Fiona Hyslop, said: "I welcome and agree with Lord Falconer's views that the High Court should be retained as the final court of appeal in Scottish criminal cases.  "I also welcome the momentum that is building to protect the independence of Scots law."  Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker said: "The vast majority of final criminal appeals are heard in Edinburgh and that position should and will remain. Lord Falconer is right to say that, in the vast majority of cases, Scotland is where criminal matters should be decided."  The Tories' David McLetchie said: "There is no suggestion that the Supreme Court should have any jurisdiction over whether or not a crime has been committed. But it will have limited jurisdiction where it is alleged that the process of investigation is incompatible with human rights."

MPs Express Concern As Average Price for A Gallon of Petrol Hits £6
(Sorry I haven't converted into $A's, but it is still far more than what we are paying, and thats bad enough - Robin)
Average petrol prices have soared past the 132p-a-litre mark – reaching £6 a gallon for the first time – according to the AA.  In parts of the Highlands and islands unleaded petrol reached 146.9p, while diesel reached 148.9p – costing an average of 137.9p in the UK.  The figures mean the cost of petrol has risen on average 6.93p a litre since the start of the year, and 1.68p a litre in the past week, said the AA.  AA president Edmund King said: “£6 a gallon is not just another milestone along the road to higher fuel prices, it marks the point at which the wheels start to come off mobility in 21st-century UK.
“Lower-income drivers, poorer rural residents, volunteer drivers, youngsters looking to their first jobs are some of the vulnerable groups struggling to stay on the road. Over the past two years, the AA has warned that unbridled speculation in the oil markets and a constant drip of fuel-tax rises would haemorrhage family finances to the point that it would damage the local and wider economy.  Middle East troubles have brought matters to a head, but the writing’s been on the wall for months and only now are the UK Government and business analysts taking notice.

Return to Wintry Chaos As Icy Blast Hits North
Winter came roaring back to the Highlands yesterday, bringing road and air chaos, with whiteout conditions in some parts.  Forecasters warned  that more snow was on the way, with up to 10in predicted for some areas along with gale-force winds.  Motorists travelling to Inverness suffered traffic jams and queues due to icy conditions and passengers hoping to fly to and from the city’s airport were delayed until the runway was cleared at 9am.  Roads in Badenoch and Strathspey were among the worst hit, with the A95 Grantown-Aviemore road described by drivers as covered in sheet ice and “atrociously icy” after a gritting lorry broke down in the morning.  Gridlock affected commuters heading to Inverness from Culloden and Balloch, while motorists travelling to the city from Nairn faced a tailback from the Norbord timber processing factory, more than four miles away.  The Kessock Bridge route was also reported very icy during the morning commute and normal delays were severely exacerbated with traffic backed up from the Munlochy junction on the A9 Thurso-Inverness road.

Squeaking Sopranos Are A Revelation
It seems that mice are great singers, sopranos in fact, and communicate with each other in this musical fashion, but, luckily for us, it is on a scale that humans cannot hear.  How do we know this? From research by scientists, of course. There must be more research projects in the world involving mice than any other creature, judging by the number of reports which are published with great regularity, detailing the effects of various tests on these small rodents. Maybe this latest research could be utilised to show humans how to improve their singing – or is that a Mickey Mouse idea?

MacNeil Challenges Prime Minister Over Coastguard Cuts
Responsibility for coastguard services should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, the SNP said after raising concerns at Prime Minister’s Questions and in a Point of Order at Westminster on Wednesday.  Western Isles MP and SNP Transport Spokesperson, Angus MacNeil, called on the Prime Minister to reconsider the Government’s plans to slash coastguard provision, closing coastguard stations across Scotland.  Later, Mr MacNeil raised a Point of Order over the decision by the House of Commons Backbench Business Committee to cancel a key debate on the future of coastguard services with less than forty eight hours notice.  Mr MacNeil said: “Cutting coastguard stations will put lives at risk and the Tory-led government must think again. Maritime safety - not financial savings - should be the driving force behind any review.  The way these services are being cut by the Tory Government and the debate over their future snubbed by the Westminster parliament underlines why responsibility over these lifeline services should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.  These Tories proposals are unjustifiable and would leave Scotland with just 25 per cent of the co-ordination centres in the UK despite accounting for 60 per cent of the sea area. In anyone’s book, that spells danger.  The UK is making really bad decisions for coastguard services in Scotland which raise real safety concerns. We should make better decisions in Scotland and not leave it to London.”

Last night Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan hosted a meeting at the Scottish Parliament between the Chief Coastguard, the Scottish Director of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, and MSPs of all parties. Dr Allan made clear to the MCA the “deep anxiety” which their proposals for coastguard cuts are causing throughout Scotland, not least in the Western Isles. “The meeting was a civilised one, but the MCA were left in no doubt that their proposals are not acceptable, either in the Western Isles or across Scotland. While the UK, rather than Scottish Government, retains control of the Coastguard, I believe that the Scottish Parliament, both through this meeting and through the debate I led on the subject last month has made its view very clear. These plans are ill thought out, and the MCA should abandon them.”

Gaelic Learners’ Course At Kershader
Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Allan, today visited a Gaelic learners’ course being held at the Ravenspoint Centre, Kershader, Isle of Lewis, and praised the work being done locally to give learners of the language a taste of Gaelic being used within the community.  Dr Allan commented: “I wish that, when I was learning Gaelic, there had been more opportunities like the one I saw in Kershader today. The community in Lochs have ensured that there exists an opportunity for learners to use the language in a natural setting. There remains an unmet demand, in the islands, and among people with an interest more generally, to learn the language to fluency, so courses like that organised by the community in Kershader are very welcome indeed.

“Recent years have seen the development of many aspects of Gaelic and Gaelic culture, not least BBC Alba which is becoming available on both Freeview and cable in the coming weeks. Along with the growth of Gaelic medium education these show the signs of optimism in the Gaelic language, but there is no doubt in my own mind about the enormity of the task ahead – reversing the decline in the numbers speaking the language. Courses like that at Kershader, together with the forthcoming Royal National Mod in Stornoway will I hope help to focus still more efforts on the fortunes of the language.”

Camping and Alcohol Ban for Loch Banks
Camping is to be banned on the east banks of Loch Lomond in an effort to crack down on anti- social behaviour, the Scottish Government said yesterday.  A public drinking ban is also set to be introduced in the area in an effort to deal with alcohol-fuelled problems with littering and irresponsible fires.  The plan for the camping ban by the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park Authority was endorsed yesterday by the government, which also gave permission for Stirling Council to impose a ban on public drinking.  The measures come into force on 1 June and camping offenders face a £500 fine.

EU Ban Threat Could Endanger Human Health (One wonders if Scotland is governed from Edinburgh, London or Brussels - Robin)
North West and central Sutherland councillor Robbie Rowantree warned that there would be severe consequences for Scotland if the European Commission went ahead and banned the use of Asulam - a chemical used to combat bracken growth.  Mr Rowantree, was speaking in advance of a EU meeting in Brussels on Friday at which the issue is set to be discussed.

A chemical agent, Asulam is contained in Asulox which is the only herbicide currently available to kill fast-growing bracken, considered a scourge in Sutherland and other rural areas of Scotland.  Mr Rowantree said: "If the European Parliament decide to ban Asulox it could spell disaster for rural Scotland's future."  Agricultural groups, including the National Farmers' Union Scotland, have been lobbying hard over the last few days in a bid to prevent the possible embargo. They have enlisted the support of leading Scottish politicians.  Scottish Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, made a last-ditch attempt on Wednesday night to prevent the ban. He wrote to Europe's health and consumer affairs commissioner, John Dalli, warning of the implications.  A recommendation that Asulam be banned came originally from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) amid worries about its use on spinach crops for which it was originally licensed.  The authority is asking today's meeting of Europe's standing committee on food chain and animal health to ban the chemical from September 2012.

The only use of Asulox in Scotland is to control bracken, a weed which is harmful to livestock and which provides a breeding ground for ticks.  Mr Rowantree, the habitat manager of Gordonbush Estate near Brora, said he used the chemical during the course of his work.  He said he was particularly disappointed that less than a fortnight's notice had been given about the likely ban.  "The continued use of Asulox is vital in keeping many of Scotland's hills and uplands in a grazeable condition. Its loss could mean an environmental and agricultural disaster in terms of uncontrollable bracken growth. In addition there is proof that extensive bracken growth has a significant impact on human health as it is a breeding ground for potentially harmful carcinogenic spores and ticks which carry Lyme's Disease." Mr Rowantree added: "We have to meet very high biodiversity targets and uncontrolled bracken growth would have a detrimental effect on our ability to meet these targets.  On the one hand, the EU is insisting that bracken is controlled or subsidies will be withdrawn and on the other, they are removing the only known tool for eradicating this invasive plant."

NFU Scotland Vice-President, John Picken, commented: "Such is the importance of Asulox to Scottish hill farmers that we are throwing every resource into seeking its continued use in controlling bracken.  Many bodies in the UK, including NFU, Scottish Government, SEPA, SNH and Defra, are supportive of the product's continued use, and recognise its importance in keeping a difficult and hardy plant like bracken under control so that the economic and environmental benefits of having grazing animals on our hills can be enjoyed."

Meanwhile NFU Scotland policy manager, Andrew Bauer, said earlier this week that the standing committee on food chain and animal health was being asked to ban Asulam based on its use on spinach, a food crop, rather than on bracken.  "If bracken is not controlled it grows rampantly, overtaking crucial grazing land," he said.  "Dense bracken cover can cause land to be ineligible for single farm payment and less-favoured area support and, if left unchecked, can lead to penalties for farmers as well."

Value of University Felt Across Scotland
The impact of the establishment of the University of the Highlands and Islands has been felt across the region as access to education has been opened up on an unprecedented scale. Now the monetary value of the UHI has been measured and the benefit to Scotland as a whole is clear.  For every £1 invested in the institution, almost £4 was generated in the Scottish economy. That translates into £190million a year and more than 3,000 jobs.  The figures are impressive and lend credibility to the anecdotal evidence that the UHI has been a success. How sustainable that success will be remains to be seen in the current economic climate. So far ministers have invested in the institution and there has been considerable support from industry. If the north of Scotland is to continue to benefit from the opportunities that having a university brings, then there will need to be much effort put in by all concerned to ensure that its academic record is matched by its financial strength.

Anger At Council Leaders' Gathering 'Slur'
Council leaders in Edinburgh are facing a fresh inquiry over their handling of The Gathering event, with union chiefs launching an investigation into criticism of local authority officers.  Unison officials in the capital believe council leader Jenny Dawe and her deputy Steve Cardownie have breached an official code of conduct preventing criticism of council staff with their aggressive response to a Holyrood inquiry into the event.  The union is furious the senior councillors gave the impression that two press officers had lied when giving evidence to a parliamentary inquiry - in the full knowledge council staff do not have a right of reply. Unison is expected to issue new guidelines to staff about the full recording of all meetings with councillors in future, and it will urge new council chief executive Sue Bruce to pledge the councillors code of conduct will be properly enforced during her tenure.

New £90m Research Centre Will Create 700 Technology Sector Jobs
Hundreds of jobs are to be created as part of an investment package worth nearly £90 million in a new technology and innovation centre.  The investment will deliver 700 jobs by 2013 in the ambitious scheme to develop innovation in areas such as energy, pharmaceuticals and engineering.  Under the plans, launched at Strathclyde University by First Minister Alex Salmond, the bulk of the posts will be created in engineering and research.  Ministers hope the project, which will also support 850 existing research jobs, will increase research investment in Scotland by up to £150m in five years.  Work on the 22,000sq m city centre complex to house the project will start towards the end of the year, with the aim of having it fully operational by 2013.  A Strathclyde University spokeswoman said that some of the 700 jobs at the centre will be created "imminently and ahead of the building completion" although the figure is not yet clear.  The £89m centre is being paid for by the Scottish Funding Council, which is providing £15m, with £11m from Scottish Enterprise and £57m from Strathclyde University. The remainder of the funds are expected to come from European Union funding.

Tomb of the Eagles Gives Up its Dark and Bloody Secret At Last

Neolithic men, women and children buried in Orkney's internationally-famous Tomb of the Eagles suffered serious violence and possibly died of it, according to new research. Archaeologists studied all 85 skulls from in and around the 5,000-year-old tomb and found that 16 of them have "clear evidence" of trauma.  The skulls - both male and female, children and adults - showed injuries caused by one or more blows to the head inflicted by a weapon. Some of these severe head wounds healed, leaving people with painful head injuries.

But Orkney-based archaeologist David Lawrence, who led the investigation and revealed his preliminary findings yesterday, said it was very likely that many died of their injuries. The findings go against the long-held belief that the people who lived in Scotland in the New Stone Age were peaceful farmers and the human race did not turn murderous and become warlike until later in pre-history.  Mr Lawrence undertook the research in a collaborative project between the University of Bradford and Orkney Museum, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.  He said: "By checking if the wounds were healed or not, we can see if someone suffered from severe head trauma just around the time of their death. To say with absolute certainty if they actually died from it is very hard, but some attacks were so severe that the whole skull split in two.  Other wounds are very subtle and are most easily observed inside the skull, where splinters have been bent inwards.  Some were caused by a blunt force, like a stone or a mace. Other cases were caused by pointed objects, like a bone-headed arrow and there were also traumas caused by edged objects, like an axe.  Some wounds did heal. There is a skull of a woman that has three healed wounds which were caused by blows from a blunt object. She also had a dislocated jaw which was badly healed. She must have suffered terribly"

The study's main finding - that Scotland's early settlers were not the friendly farmers that historians had thought them - is in line with recent results from studies and finds in Europe. "For a long time it was thought Neolithic people were friendly farmers, but in recent years it has been proven that this was not necessarily the case," said Mr Lawrence. "My study shows this again, but this time on an apparently remote island."  Mr Lawrence is convinced that the people in the Tomb of the Eagles were not ritually killed.  He said: "There was a great variety in the places where people were hit and the instruments used. There is no simple pattern. This variety makes it very unlikely that they were killed in some kind of ritual.

"Some wounds are too directed to be an accident. Some went straight through the skull. Many were very likely caused by a mace, or even just stones, but certainly caused with intent. I think it is very likely that some of the head injuries were suffered during fights face to face. I can't say if they were fighting each other or different tribes.  "It is hard to tell who these particular people were, and why they were buried in this tomb. There is still a lot of carbon dating to do, but most of the bones seem to date from the fourth millennium BC."

Ancient Burial Pots Discovered
Two Bronze Age burial pots, each containing human remains, have been discovered at the base of an ancient standing stone after it toppled over, it was revealed yesterday.  The 7ft Carlinwell Stone at Airlie, near Kirriemuir in Angus, fell last month with the onset of the spring thaw as the harsh winter's snow and ice melted.  The ancient stone was undamaged, and archaeologists were commissioned by Historic Scotland to excavate the base before work began to raise the monolith back into position.  The excavations have led to the discovery of two small pots, known as collared urns, believed to be more than 3,500 years old.

After having dug to a depth of 3 metres last year, British scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 200 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 150 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Brits, in the weeks that followed, an American archaeologist dug to a depth of 6 metres, and shortly after, a story published in the New York Times:  "American archaeologists, finding traces of 250-year-old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network 50 years earlier than the British".

One week later, the state’s Dept of Minerals and Energy in Western Australia , reported the following:  "After digging as deep as 9 metres in Western Australia ’s Pilbara region, Jack Lucknow, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely damn all.  Jack has therefore concluded that 250 years ago, Australia had already gone wireless."

Just makes you bloody proud to be Australian.