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British history

A farming settlement in Britain about 3000 years ago The first people to arrive in Britain did so at least 850,000 years ago. At that time, Britain and Ireland were joined together with the continent of Europe (they did not become separate islands until around 6500 BC). At this time, the world was in the grip of the Ice Ages: on eight occasions, most of Britain became covered in a deep layer of ice and was completely uninhabitable. Its people then moved south to live in warmer lands. Around 11,500 years ago, the climate warmed up once more. By around 4500 BC, Britons had started to farm the land, make weapons and tools, and build houses and other buildings.



Boxgrove Man is the name given to a prehistoric human called Homo heidelbergensis who lived in southern England about 500,000...Read More >>Boxgrove Man is the name given to a prehistoric human called Homo heidelbergensis who lived in southern England about 500,000 years ago. A fossil was discovered in Boxgrove, West Sussex, in 1993. Discovered alongside the find were the fossil remains of now extinct kinds of rhinoceros and bear. Boxgrove Man probably hunted these animals for food, using stone tools and weapons also discovered at the site.
A Neanderthal group living in a cave

The first Britons

The first people to arrive in Britain walked across the land bridge from the European continent around 850,000 years ago. These early people were a type of early human known as Homo heidelbergensis (Heidelbergs) and lived by hunting wild animals and eating fruits, berries, nuts and edible plants. They wore animal skins and lived in caves and simple shelters made of branches. Neanderthals arrived in Britain possibly around 130,000 years ago, then disappeared about 30,000 years ago. Modern-day humans, Homo sapiens, first arrived in Britain from mainland Europe 41,000 to 44,000 years ago.People preparing and cooking fish over a camp fire about 30,000 years ago
Following the last glacial period during the Pleistocene Ice Ages, the climate started to warm up. Around 11,500 years ago, much...Read More >>Following the last glacial period during the Pleistocene Ice Ages, the climate started to warm up. Around 11,500 years ago, much of the North Sea and English Channel was free of ice, but still dry land: an expanse of low-lying tundra. This land area is called Doggerland. Rising sea levels started to submerge Doggerland and Britain became an island once more by 6500 BC.

Britain becomes an island

In 2000, a flint hand axe was found in Norfolk, England, which experts have dated to between 700,000 and 550,000 years old. It is the earliest known object made by humans in Britain.

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