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'Swine team' lead archaeologists to Ice Age find

Archaeologists from the University of Reading have been sharing the tale of how a herd of pigs led to them discovering the oldest evidence of human activity in Scotland.

Dr Karen Wicks from the University of Reading with the 'Swine Team' Credit: University of Reading

The team were alerted to Islay in the Inner Hebrides after a herd of pigs dug up uprooted mesolithic items while foraging along the coastline. The scientists discovered a set of Ice Age stone tools used for hunting - including sharp points used for hunting big game and scrapers for cleaning skins. The items date back 12,000 years.

Some of the tools found by the archaeologists

"The Mesolithic finds were a wonderful discovery - but what was underneath took our breath away. The Ice Age tools provide the first unequivocal presence of people in Scotland about 3000 years earlier than previously indicated. This moves the story of Islay into a new historical era, from the Mesolithic into the Palaeolithic.

"Western Scotland was the northwest frontier of the Ice Age world, a continuous landmass stretching across Europe to Asia. It was originally thought that people first arrived in Scotland after the end of the ice age, around 10,500 years ago. However we now know that a group of ice age hunter-gatherers visited Islay much earlier, discarding broken stone tools at what we think was maybe a camp site, on the island's east coast...

"The initial discovery was more swine team than Time Team. Archaeology relies on expert planning and careful analysis - but a bit of luck is also very welcome."

– Dr Karen Wicks, University of Reading's Department of Archaeology


Huge increase in applications for University of Reading

Applications rise for undergraduate courses Credit: University of Reading

The University of Reading has bucked the national trend by seeing a 21 per cent increase in applications. That's 10 times the national figure. Applications are up by more than 4,000 compared to this time last year. Just over 23,000 students have applied to the University - which represents six applications for every place. Some courses, such as Economics, Geography and Environmental Sciences, are seeing 10 applications for every place available.

There has also been a strong rise in the number of overseas applications with 3,756 applications being received to date, compared to 2,753 at the same point last year

Scientists' warning over Ebola outbreak

Scientists from the University of Reading are warning the Ebola outbreak in West Africa won't be contained for months. The deadly disease has so far killed nearly 1000 people and the World Health Organisation has declared the epidemic an international health emergency.

ITV Meridian spoke to Dr Ben Neuman, a Virologist at the University of Reading.

Scientists warn of increasing number of 'super rats'

So-called 'super rats' are invading whole areas across the UK according to new research. The study shows that a new mutant strain of rodents are becoming immune to legally available rat poisons.

The problem is becoming worse day by day, as the rats continue to eat the bait without being affected. The interviewee is Dr Colin Prescott, Director of the Vertebrate Pests Unit, University of Reading.


Students put on musical in 24 hours for charity

A group of students from the University of Reading have staged a musical in just 24 hours. They have taken on the challenge to raise money for a brain tumour charity.

The proceeds will go to the Ollie Young Foundation, which supports research into how brain tumours affect children. The performers had just 24 hours in which to announce, cast, rehearse and stage their live performance of Beauty and the Beast. Sam Simmons told us about the project.

Super 'mutant' rats invading the south

The so-called Norway rat is infesting areas across the south Credit: ITV Meridian

New research has revealed that super mutant rats are infesting the south. According to scientists at the University of Reading, the rodents which are resisting legal poisons are now invading parts of Dorset, the Thames Valley and Kent.

The so-called 'Norway rat' is the culprit.

The so-called Norway rat is infesting areas across the south Credit: ITV Meridian

New centre offers hope for dementia sufferers in the Thames Valley

Dementia has been described by experts as a "ticking time bomb" affecting thousands of people in our region.

But now a new research centre that aims to improve the detection and prevention of the disease has opened at the University of Reading.

The centre will run clinical trials in the hope of finding new treatments, as Mel Bloor reports.

Interviewees: Dr Laurie Butler - Head of the University of Reading's School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences, Les Eggleton whose wife suffers from Dementia and Dr Paul Loughlin, Consultant Psychiatrist in Old Age.

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