10 August 2010

Britain’s oldest home?

The Telegraph reports that archaeologists have discovered what is believed to be Britain's earliest house. It is so old that when it was built Britain was still part of Continental Europe.

The circular structure near Scarborough, North Yorkshire, which dates back to the Stone Age 8,500 years BC, was found next to a former lake. It predates the dwelling previously thought to be Britain's oldest, at Howick, Northumberland, by at least 500 years.

The team said they are also excavating a large wooden platform made of timbers which have been split and hewn. It is thought to be the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe.

According to the archaeologists, the site was inhabited by hunter-gatherers from just after the last Ice Age, for between 200 and 500 years. They migrated from an area now under the North Sea, hunting animals including deer, wild boar, elk and auroch. Although they did not cultivate the land, the inhabitants did burn part of the landscape to encourage animals to eat shoots and they also kept domesticated dogs.

Dr Nicky Milner of the University of York said: "This is a sensational discovery and tells us so much about the people who lived at this time. From this excavation, we gain a vivid picture of how these people lived. For example, it looks like the house may have been rebuilt at various stages. It is also likely there was more than one house and lots of people lived here.

"The platform is made of hewn and split timbers; the earliest evidence of this type of carpentry in Europe. And the artefacts of antler, particularly the antler headdresses, are intriguing as they suggest ritual activities."

Another one of those stories to which my only response is “Wow!”


CherryPie said...

Fascinating news!

jams o donnell said...

It really is, eh?

susan said...

I bet that platform they found was an outdoor deck with a hot tub. It was hard work hunting aurochs.

jams o donnell said...

Haha just the thing after a hard day's hunting, susan!