| 6 October 2003
Earliest use of fire in Europe
Archaeologists in Wiltshire (England) think they may have discovered the earliest use of fire in Europe. A new report reveals details of a major archaeological discovery on the route of the proposed Harnham Relief Road. The ancient site, which dates back between 250,000 and 300,000 years to the early Stone Age, is thought to be of national importance.
Archaeologists discovered a range of items, including 44 flint hand axes. Other finds included animal bones, such as horse bones. Helena Cave Penny, Wiltshire County Council's county archaeologist for Salisbury district, said: "This is a very exciting discovery which has helped our understanding of the period. The presence of charcoal at the site suggests the people there made fires - this would seem natural when it is known that the climate was cold and damp at the time. It could be the earliest evidence of such fires in Britain and probably in Europe."
Archaeological evidence suggests the site was next to a tributary of the River Avon and may have been used as a seasonal riverside camp by hunters who lived in Britain at the time.
Wiltshire County Council will now be consulting with English Heritage and other interested organisations to decide what steps should be taken to safeguard the archaeological finds.
Source: Wiltshire County Council
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