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Amesbury Confirmed as the UK's Oldest Settlement

By Paul Lay | Posted 2nd May 2014, 12:47
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StonehengeUntil recently it was thought that the oldest settlement in the United Kingdom was Thatcham in Berkshire. Now, due to an extraordinary project run by the University of Buckingham’s Humanities Research Institute, that prize goes to Amesbury, 40 miles away across the county border in Wiltshire, which includes Stonehenge. It has been continually occupied since 8820 BC.

David Jacques, the leader of the project, believes that the find alters entirely our understanding of the Neolithic Revolution, not least the diet of the first settlers, which included Auroch (giant cattle, twice the size of the modern bull), red deer, even frogs' legs – a 'Heston Blumenthal-style menu', according to Jacques, research fellow in archaeology at Buckingham.

More importantly, according to Jacques: 'It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building and presumably worshipping monuments. For years people have been asking "why is Stonehenge where it is?" Now, at last, we have found the answers'

A television documentary of this remarkable project will be broadcast later in the year.

Paul Lay is the editor of History Today

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Why do we have history and archaeology? In the light of our understanding of ‘deep time’ Daniel Lord Smail argues that it is high time that the two disciplines were reunited.


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