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27 August 2005
Stone Age site uncovered in the heart of Surrey

An excavation in East Surrey (England) has turned up flint tools and cooking pots from about 10,000 years ago. The area, which bears the remains of cooked meals, campfires and flints shaped into tools by people who visited the North Downs around 8,000 BCE, is believed to contain one of the most important Mesolithic excavations in Britain.
     Andrew Josephs, an archaeologist and the projectís consultant, said: "The most extraordinary thing is that people gathered here for 4,000 years. Itís over a period of time that is very hard to comprehend. We think of the Romans as a long time ago, at 2,000 years. Mesolithic man was coming here for 4,000 years, which is 200 generations of people. It suggests a tradition passed down from generation to generation."
     Within hours of starting to dig, archaeologists had unearthed an adze, an implement used for shaping wood. The buried land surface is littered with evidence of communities that came to the area from around 8,000 BCE to 4,300 BCE.
     The site is at North Park Farm, Bletchingley, a medieval village in East Surrey. It emerged when a mineral supply company, applied for planning permission to quarry in the area and an archaeological investigation was undertaken as part of the process.
     Jonathan Last, English Heritageís head of prehistory research policy, said: "We find quite a lot of Mesolithic flints across England, but they usually turn up in plough soils on the surface. It is unusual to have undisturbed remains of occupation, where we can refit pieces of flint and find them in relation to hearths and cooking places."

Source: The Times (25 August 2005)

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