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Ancient Britain Archaeologists working in Norfolk in the early 21st century discovered stone tools that suggest the presence of humans in Britain from aboutto 1 million years ago. These startling discoveries underlined the extent to which archaeological research is responsible for any knowledge of Britain before the Roman conquest begun ad All that is available is a picture of successive cultures and some knowledge of economic development.
But even in Roman times Britain lay on the periphery of the civilized world, and Roman historians, for the most part, provide for that period only a framework into which the results of archaeological research can be fitted.
Britain truly emerged into the light of history only after the Saxon settlements in the 5th century ad.
Until late in the Mesolithic PeriodBritain formed part of the continental landmass and was easily accessible to migrating hunters. The cutting of the land bridgec. Thus Britain developed insular characteristics, absorbing and adapting rather than fully participating in successive continental cultures.
And within the island geography worked to a similar end; the fertile southeast was more receptive of influence from the adjacent continent than were the less-accessible hill areas of the west and north.
Yet in certain periods the use of sea routes brought these too within the ambit of the continent. From the end of the Ice Age c. Valuable insight on contemporary conditions was gained by the excavation of a lakeside settlement at Star Carr, North Yorkshirewhich was occupied for about 20 successive winters by hunting people in the 8th millennium bc.
They were pastoralists as well as tillers of the soil. Tools were commonly of flint won by mining, but axes of volcanic rock were also traded by prospectors exploiting distant outcrops.
The dead were buried in communal graves of two main kinds: Other evidence of religion comes from enclosures e. From them developed, late in the 3rd millennium, more clearly ceremonial ditch-enclosed earthworks known as henge monuments.
Some, like Durrington WallsWiltshireare of great size and enclose subsidiary timber circles. British Neolithic culture thus developed its own individuality. Bronze Age Early in the 2nd millennium or perhaps even earlier, from c.
These people buried their dead in individual graves, often with the drinking vessel that gives their culture its name.
The earliest of them still used flint; later groups, however, brought a knowledge of metallurgy and were responsible for the exploitation of gold and copper deposits in Britain and Ireland.
They may also have introduced an Indo-European language.
Trade was dominated by the chieftains of Wessexwhose rich graves testify to their success. Commerce was far-flung, in one direction to Ireland and Cornwall and in the other to central Europe and the Baltic, whence amber was imported. Amber bead spacers from Wessex have been found in the shaft graves at Mycenae in Greece.
It was, perhaps, this prosperity that enabled the Wessex chieftains to construct the remarkable monument of shaped sarsens large sandstones known as Stonehenge III. Originally a late Neolithic henge, Stonehenge was uniquely transformed in Beaker times with a circle of large bluestone monoliths transported from southwest Wales.
Little is known in detail of the early and middle Bronze Age.
Because of present ignorance of domestic sites, these periods are mainly defined by technological advances and changes in tools or weapons. In general, the southeast of Britain continued in close contact with the continent and the north and west with Ireland.
From about bc there is clearer evidence for agriculture in the south; the farms consisted of circular huts in groups with small oblong fields and stock enclosures.
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United Kingdom - Ancient Britain: Archaeologists working in Norfolk in the early 21st century discovered stone tools that suggest the presence of humans in Britain from about , to 1 million years ago. These startling discoveries underlined the extent to which archaeological research is responsible for any knowledge of Britain before the Roman .
United Kingdom - Ancient Britain: Archaeologists working in Norfolk in the early 21st century discovered stone tools that suggest the presence of humans in Britain from about , to 1 million years ago. These startling discoveries underlined the extent to which archaeological research is responsible for any knowledge of Britain before the Roman conquest (begun ad 43).