Pre-history may have to be re-written due to groundbreaking finds by Stonehenge team

2 11 2014

Pre-history may have to be re-written following a recent dig by university students near Stonehenge.

Senior research fellow David Jacques

Senior research fellow David Jacques

Signs of human habitation 8,000 years ago have been discovered by Archaeology MA students from the University of Buckingham, led by senior research fellow David Jacques.

Mr Jacques said: “This year we’ve found burnt flint – a sign that people had made fires, so were in the area, around 8,000 years ago.

“The finds will have to be carbon-dated to get a precise date.

“It’s been wonderful that the first ever University of Buckingham archaeology students have unearthed mesolithic tools as part of the team of volunteers at the dig.”

The archaeologist, who is leading the new Archaeology MA course at the university, has just completed a two-week dig at Vespasian’s Camp, a mile from Stonehenge, at which MA students and University of Buckingham staff worked as volunteers, sifting through remains.

A number of ancient flint tools were among the finds.

More than 12,000 items from the mesolithic era (8000 – 3500BC) have been uncovered, including hunting tools, the cooked bones of aurochs – a gigantic cow-like animal – deer, wild boar, and even toads’ legs.

The finds have revealed that the site was in use continually for over 3,000 years, and could even be the reason why Stonehenge is where it is.

Mr Jacques suspects the site will contain evidence of settlements, which would be some of the earliest ever found in the UK and would completely change our understanding of this era.

Mr Jacques appeared on TV this year in BBC 1’s Operation Stonehenge and BBC 4’s The Flying Archaeologist.

And the MA students working alongside him at the dig a fortnight ago found themselves being filmed for a forthcoming episode of Horizon.

Digs at the site over the last few years have already yielded a staggering 32,000 artefacts dating from as far back as 7500BC.

Last year, the dig resulted in 8,000-year-old burnt frogs’ legs being found, revealing the delicacy was originally English and not French.

Earlier this year, carbon dating of finds from the dig led to the revelation that Amesbury is the oldest town in the country.

A previous public lecture by Mr Jacques at the university drew a packed audience.

Following the latest dig, Mr Jacques is returning to deliver another public lecture on Thursday, November 13.

The free event will take place at 6.30pm, in the Chandos Road Building, as part of the university’s autumn concert and lecture series.

In the lecture, Mr Jacques will unveil startling new evidence showing how the mesolithic period influenced the building of Stonehenge.

The lecture will focus on the area around the dig, Blick Mead, which features a natural spring, which would have attracted settlers to the area.

The warm spring water has caused stones to turn a bright puce, a colour of stone not found elsewhere in the UK.

David Jacques was elected a Fellow of the Society of the Antiquaries (FSA) in recognition of the importance of his discoveries there.
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Amesbury – including Stonehenge – is the UK’s longest continually-occupied settlement

6 05 2014

Amesbury in Wiltshire confirmed as oldest UK settlement.

A Wiltshire town has been confirmed as the longest continuous settlement in the United Kingdom.

Amesbury - including Stonehenge - is the UK's longest continually-occupied settlement

Amesbury – including Stonehenge – is the UK’s longest continually-occupied settlement

Amesbury, including Stonehenge, has been continually occupied since BC8820, experts have found.

The news was confirmed following an archaeological dig which also unearthed evidence of frogs’ legs being eaten in Britain 8,000 years before France.

Amesbury’s place in history has also now been recognised by the Guinness Book of Records.

David Jacques, from the University of Buckingham, said: “The site blows the lid off the Neolithic Revolution in a number of ways.

“It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building, and presumably worshipping, monuments.

“The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself.

“The first monuments at Stonehenge were built by these people. For years people have been asking why is Stonehenge where it is, now at last, we have found the answers.”

Mr Jacques said the River Avon, which runs through the area, would have been like an A road with people travelling along it.

“They may have had the equivalent of local guides and there would have been feasting,” he added.

“We have found remains of big game animals, such as aurochs and red deer, and an enormous amount of burnt flint from their feasting fires.”

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The dig unearthed the largest haul of worked flints from the Mesolithic period

Previously, Thatcham in Berkshire, 40 miles from Amesbury, held the record for the longest continuous settlement in the country.

The dig in Amesbury also uncovered 31,000 worked flints in 40 days as well as animal bones such as frogs’ legs.

Mr Jacques said our ancestors were eating a “Heston Blumenthal-style menu”.

The find was based on a report by fossil mammal specialist Simon Parfitt, of the Natural History Museum.

Andy Rhind-Tutt, the founder of Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust, said there was “something unique and rather special about the area” to keep people there from the end of the Ice Age, to when Stonehenge was created and until today.

“The fact that the feasting of large animals and the discovery of a relatively constant temperature spring sitting alongside the River Avon, may well be it,” he said.

The dig was filmed and made into a documentary by the BBC, Smithsonian, CBC and others to be screened later in the summer.

The project was led by the University of Buckingham

Article source: BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-wiltshire-27238503

Historic Amesbury – the Home of Stonehenge

Nestling within a loop of the River Avon alongside the A303 just 1.5 miles from Stonehenge, Amesbury is a destination not to be missed. With recent evidence of continuous settlement since before 7500BC and a breath-taking Mesolithic collection that is greater in quantity (from one single location) than any other found in this country, the town’s new Museum at the Melor Hall, Church Street will amaze visitors with its story of life before the Stones and its mind blowing artefacts from the Town where History began.

Visit Wiltshire Website: http://www.visitwiltshire.co.uk/ideas-and-inspiration/amesbury-museum-and-heritage-centre-p1536253

Amesbury Museum and Heritage Trust: https://www.facebook.com/AmesburyMuseum

Salisbury Reds (transport to and from Amesbury): http://www.salisburyreds.co.uk/ptv-amesbury.shtml

Local Tour Operators including Amesbury and Stonehenge:
Salisbury, Stonehenge and Sarum Audio Tours: http://www.salisburystonehengetours.co.uk/
The Stonehenge Travel Company: http://www.StonehengeTravel.co.uk

The Stonehenge News Blog

 





‘World’s oldest calendar’ discovered in Scottish field

18 07 2013

Archaeologists believe they have discovered the world’s oldest lunar “calendar” in an Aberdeenshire field.

Excavations of a field at Crathes Castle found a series of 12 pits which appear to mimic the phases of the moon and track lunar months.

A team led by the University of Birmingham suggests the ancient monument was created by hunter-gatherers about 10,000 years ago.

The pit alignment, at Warren Field, was first excavated in 2004.

An illustration of how the pits would have worked An illustration of how the pits would have worked

An illustration of how the pits would have worked

The experts who analysed the pits said they may have contained a wooden post.

The Mesolithic “calendar” is thousands of years older than previous known formal time-measuring monuments created in Mesopotamia.

“It is remarkable to think that our aerial survey may have helped to find the place where time itself was invented” Dave CowleyRCAHMS

The analysis has been published in the journal, Internet Archaeology.

The pit alignment also aligns on the Midwinter sunrise to provided the hunter-gatherers with an annual “astronomic correction” in order to better follow the passage of time and changing seasons.

Vince Gaffney, Professor of Landscape Archaeology at Birmingham, led the analysis project.

He said: “The evidence suggests that hunter-gatherer societies in Scotland had both the need and sophistication to track time across the years, to correct for seasonal drift of the lunar year and that this occurred nearly 5,000 years before the first formal calendars known in the Near East.

“In doing so, this illustrates one important step towards the formal construction of time and therefore history itself.”

The universities of St Andrews, Leicester and Bradford were also involved.

Dr Richard Bates, of the University of St Andrews, said the discovery provided “exciting new evidence” of the early Mesolithic Scotland.

He added: “This is the earliest example of such a structure and there is no known comparable site in Britain or Europe for several thousands of years after the monument at Warren Field was constructed.”

The Warren Field site was first discovered as unusual crop marks spotted from the air by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS).

Dave Cowley, aerial survey projects manager at RCAHMS, said: “We have been taking photographs of the Scottish landscape for nearly 40 years, recording thousands of archaeological sites that would never have been detected from the ground.

“Warren Field stands out as something special, however. It is remarkable to think that our aerial survey may have helped to find the place where time itself was invented.”

Prof Vince Gaffney
Prof Vince Gaffney led the project to analyse the pits at Warren FieldCrathes Castle and its estate is in the care of the National Trust for Scotland (NTS).

From 2004 to 2006, trust staff and Murray Archaeological Services excavated the site.

NTS archaeologist Dr Shannon Fraser said: “This is a remarkable monument, which is so far unique in Britain.

“Our excavations revealed a fascinating glimpse into the cultural lives of people some 10,000 years ago – and now this latest discovery further enriches our understanding of their relationship with time and the heavens.”

Full article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-23286928

Merlin @ Stonehenge
The Stonehenge News Blog








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