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Stunning Happisburgh find rewrites human history

PUBLISHED: 19:00 07 July 2010 | UPDATED: 14:06 02 August 2010

Flint tools and flakes found on the beach at Happisburgh have led to a radical rethink about when humans first settled in Britain.

Archaeological finds on the Norfolk coastline have rewritten history by pushing back the date for the first known human settlement in northern Europe by at least 100,000 years.

Flint tools and flakes found on the beach at Happisburgh have led to a radical rethink about when humans first settled in Britain.

Archaeological finds on the Norfolk coastline have rewritten history by pushing back the date for the first known human settlement in northern Europe by at least 100,000 years.

Fossils and artefacts found during six years of fieldwork at Happisburgh have revealed that ancient humans occupied Britain between 800,000 years and 970,000 years ago.

Until recently the oldest evidence of early humans in Britain indicated dates back to only 700,000 years ago.

The finds have been shrouded in secrecy until now, but this week much of the technical detail will be published in the latest issue of the scientific journal Nature.

Scientists and archaeologists have included experts from the Natural History Museum, the British Museum, University College London, Queen Mary University of London and Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service.

They have included specialists in entomology, palaeontology, sedimentology and palaeobotany.

Professor Chris Stringer, research leader in human origins at the Natural History Museum, said: “These finds are by far the earliest known evidence of humans in Britain, dating at least 100,000 years earlier than previous discoveries.”

The evidence from Happisburgh has given further rigour to the existing theory that the site lay on an ancient course of the River Thames, long since obliterated during the later Ice Ages.

Read more on this website tomorrow morning.


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