Scotland's foundations

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The Independent Online

It is hardly news that Scotland is unsure whether it feels more at home with the social-democratic ways of Scandinavia or the free-booting individualism of North America; all that is certain is that Scots know they are made of different stuff to the Sassenachs who reside to the south. Now geology has added the weight of its scientific thought to these political intuitions: Scotland, or at least the rock on which it stands, is truly of a different matter.

It is hardly news that Scotland is unsure whether it feels more at home with the social-democratic ways of Scandinavia or the free-booting individualism of North America; all that is certain is that Scots know they are made of different stuff to the Sassenachs who reside to the south. Now geology has added the weight of its scientific thought to these political intuitions: Scotland, or at least the rock on which it stands, is truly of a different matter.

One thousand million years ago, we are reliably informed by the geosciences department at St Andrews University, the Atlantic Ocean was formed by a shifting of the tectonic plates, one of which either left Scotland behind on its way to become Canada, or merely dragged what is now Scotland a few miles offshore from mainland Europe.

The latest high-precision techniques for analysing rock samples will now be applied to discover just where Scotland came from. Scottish nationalists advocating separation from England are often tasked with the worry that Scotland would be alone in the world if it were to leave the warm embrace of Westminster. When the results of these tests come in, they will know where home really lies.

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