7,000-year-old archaeological site was a Stone Age rest area

A recently uncovered archaeological site in the Scottish highlands dates back to the Mesolithic, roughly 10,000 years ago. What makes it so unusual is that this isn't a settlement - it's the prehistoric equivalent of a highway pit stop.

Sadly, there are no stone-operated vending machines, vaguely grotty bathrooms, or designated wolf-walking areas at this particular rest area. But even without all those modern accouterments, this particular site is still very much of a kind with their present-day counterparts. The commercial operation Headland Archaeology, which was hired to excavate the site in preparation for supermarket construction, discovered an ancient hearth with tons of charcoal remnants left inside.

That's a sure sign of ancient fires, but how could they possibly tell that this was the Stone Age equivalent of a rest area? Well, there were absolutely no food remains found in the area, which is extremely unusual and suggests the hearth was used strictly for warmth, not heat. That means people likely would have only used it a night at a time and then moved on. The archaeologists explain further in their report:

"Activity in the area during the Mesolithic period is known from the discovery of a number of small flint tools along the Culbin Sands in Nairn. The lack of any other Mesolithic dating on the site suggests that there was no settlement in the area, and that instead the hearth represents a temporary rest stop."

At this time in its history, Britain was inhabited by nomadic hunter-gatherers. When this particular hearth was in use, Britain might actually have still been a peninsula attached to Europe (just don't tell any Brits that), which was subsequently transformed into an island, most likely by a series of devastating tsunamis.

Read the complete report here. Via BBC News.