|23 October 1999
Britain's stalest bread unearthed
Two pieces of Stone Age bread baked more than 5,000 years ago have been found at an archaeological dig at Yarnton in Oxfordshire.
The oldest bread found in Britain, it appears to have been accidentally burnt and thrown into the bottom of a pit. The same pit contained a large flint knife and other tools, fragments of pottery and charred hazelnuts. Carbon dating of the bread by independent laboratories in Oxford and New Zealand determined that it had been made some time between 3620 and 3350 BCE. The tiny pieces of bread, less than half an inch across, were found during a dig by the Oxford Archaeological Unit at a quarry.
Gill Hey, the senior archaeologist at the unit, said the bread was discovered when the soil was rinsed with water. "Because it had burnt, the bread was very light and floated to the surface."
The bread is made of coarsely ground grains; only barley can be clearly identified. Dr Mark Robinson of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History said the grains would have been mixed to produce flour, which was made into dough and baked, probably on stones over an open fire.
Source: The Times (8 october 99)
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