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28 October 2003
Massive migration into Britain after last Ice Age

New research, based on artefact dating and ice core climate information, has shown that Britain saw a tidal wave of immigration as soon as the last Ice Age ended. The new data change the view previously held, which was that Britain’s re-population was a slow process led by tentative exploration.
     Up to 20,000 years ago a huge ice sheet extended as far south as Norfolk. Then temperatures rose rapidly, driving back the glacial cover. As the glaciers retreated, people returned to a British peninsula joined to continental Europe by a land bridge. Archaeologist Nick Barton, from Oxford Brookes University, led a study published in the latest edition of the Journal of Quaternary Science. “The big question has always been how quickly, and in what number, did people return once the glaciers had retreated? Now, with the benefit of large numbers of radiocarbon dates corrected against a highly accurate record of global climatic change of the Greenland ice record, it seems that reoccupation was an almost instantaneous event across northern and central Europe. The question of why people moved so quickly remains to be answered – were they drawn by new possibilities in the north, or was there something driving them? Co-author Martin Street, from the Romisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum in Neuwied (Germany) takes the former view. “It seems clear that people were following the herds of large animals, like horse, which expanded to occupy the continent during this period. Humans can be seen as part of that pulse.”

Source: NEWS.scotsman.com (26 October 2003)

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