Earliest image of a human discovered in Scotland

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A 5,000-year-old carving discovered in the Orkney Islands is being hailed as the oldest face in Scotland by archaeologists. At first glance, it appears little more than a tiny fragment of sandstone with a few crude scratches on the surface. Yet this precious object is the earliest carving of the human form to be found in Scotland - there are only two others in the whole of the British mainland.

The face and its lozenge-shaped body - measuring just 3.5cm by 3cm - were carved on the Orkney island of Westray between 4,500 and 5,000 years ago. The enigmatic figurine had lain undisturbed in the earth at the Links of Noltland - one of Orkney's richest archaeological sites - until just last week. That was when archaeologists, carefully brushing away the mud from the fragment of sandstone, found Scotland's earliest human face staring back at them.

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