|18 August 2010
Oldest house in UK found in Yorkshire
An archaeological team from the Universities of York and Manchester have discovered the oldest house in Britain at a site called Star Carr, near Scarborough (North Yorkshire, England). The house is believed top date from 8,500 BCE, pre dating the previous oldest house (in Howick, Northumberland) by 500 tears.
The find dates from the time at the end of the last Ice Age, when Britain was still linked to mainland Europe and settlers were starting to return, following the receding ice. It is a round house, approximately 3.5 metres in diameter, with timber posts around a sunken floor. The remains have been held in a good state of preservation over the millenia, protected under peat. But the peat is now drying out and archaeologists are racing to preserve as much as possible before the remains decay away. The house is situated on the shore of an ancient lake and it is believed that the occupants were hunter gatherers rather than farmers as there is evidence of burnt landscape (to encourage the growth of shoots, to attract animals) and also evidence of domesticated dogs, which would have been used in hunting.
As well as the house, the team has found a large wooden platform. The exciting part of this discovery is that it comprises split, hewn timbers, leading the archaeologists to believe it is the earliest example of carpentry yet found in Europe.
One of the team leaders, Dr Chantal Conneller, is quoted as saying "This changes our ideas of the lives of the first settlers to move back into Britain after the end of the last Ice Age. We used to think they moved around a lot and left little evidence. Now we know they built large structures and were very attached to particular places in the landscape"
The site was only discovered in 1947 and, after several artifacts had been discovered, excavations started between 1949 and 1951 and again in 1985 to 1989. The current excavations were recommended in 2004. The excavations are supported by Natural Environment Research Council, the British Academy, English Heritage and the Vale opf Pickering Research Trust. The site is due to be schedule as a National Monument.
Sources: Manchester University, BBC News, Yorkshire Post, the Guardian (10 August 2010)
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