9 July 2010

Work near Happisburgh, Norfolk, part of the Ancient Occupation of Britain (AHOB) project, has found flint tools (but no human remains) which push back the earliest settlement of Britain to more than 800 000 years ago and possibly to as long as 950 000 years ago. In 2005 finds at Pakefield in Suffolk put the earliest occupation around 700 000 years ago and before that Boxgrove, Sussex suggested 500 000 years ago.

There’s a report here.

These Happisburgh tools were made by humans but these were not homo sapiens sapiens, you and me, but perhaps a branch of the human family, Homo antecessor.

The present population of Britain is largely descended from homo sapiens sapiens who settled here about 12 000 years ago. Theirs/ours was the ninth attempt at settlement here by humans. When we use the word indigenous let us remember those other eight.

The original report is in Nature but to read it in its entirely requires a subscription or payment. Nature 8 July 2010 [466: 189-190] ROBERTS Andrew P and GRÜN Rainer ‘Archeology: early human northerners’

To read about the work of AHOB see Homo britannicus by Chris STRINGER (Penguin 2006)

Happisburgh is pronounced haze bruh [IPA heiz brə]