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8 December 2009
French immigrants founded first British farms

Archaeological finds from Britain show that farming was introduced 6000 years ago by immigrants from France, and that the ancient Brits might have continued as hunter-gatherers had it not been for innovations introduced by the Gallic newcomers.
     Mark Collard from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, and his colleagues studied carbon-14 dates for ancient bones, wood and cereal grains from locations across Great Britain. From this they were able to assess how population density changed with time, indicating that around 6000 years ago the population quadrupled in just 400 years. This coincides with the emergence of farming in Britain. This explosion was so quick it could not have evolved from the indigenous hunter-gatherer communities and the only conclusion is that agriculture and people came from Brittany in North West France, said the researchers.
     Pottery remains and tomb types suggest the first immigrants came from Brittany in north-west France to southern England, followed around 100 years later by a second wave from north-eastern France who settled in Scotland.

Source: Telegraph.co.uk (3 December 2009), New Scientist (5 December 2009)

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