Neanderthals in Britain 40,000 Earlier than Believed

1 06 2010

British Archeologists have determined that Neanderthals arrived in Britain approximately 40,000 years earlier than has been believed.

Working with funding by the UK Highways Agency, as part of a study commissioned by Oxford Archaeology, the University of Southampton’s Dr Francis Wenban-Smith discovered two ancient flints at the juncture of the M25 and A2 roads near Dartford, in Kent.  The flints were waste flakes from the manufacture of unknown tools, which would almost certainly have been used to cut up dead animals.  Tests on the sediments in which the flints were buried showed that they date from around 100,000 years ago, proving Neanderthals were living in Britain at the time, even though the country had been assumed by scientists to be uninhabited during that period.

The island was occupied by early pre-Neanderthals, who were there before the last ice age, but were forced south by glaciation sometime around 200,000 year ago.  When the climate warmed up again, between 130,000 and 110,000 years ago, they couldn’t return because, similar to the present day, the sea-level in the English Channel was raised, blocking their path, or so scientists believed.  This discovery shows that they somehow returned earlier than the 60,000 years ago, that previous evidence suggested.

This piece was derived from an article by the University of Southampton (2010, June 1). “Neanderthals walked into frozen Britain 40,000 years earlier than first thought, evidence shows.” ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 1, 2010, from the following URL:­/releases/2010/06/100601124124.htm.



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