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3 December 2012
Stone Age nomads settled in West of England

A recent discovery of worked flints and charred timber suggests that stone age people built permanent dwellings at Lunt Meadows, Sefton (Merseyside, England). Archaeologists are still working on the site, discovered this summer, but preliminary carbon-dating results suggest that they are almost 8,000 years old, from the Mesolithic period.
     As well as the worked flint, and large pebbles with a partly polished surface showing they were used as tools, the archaeologists have found quantities of chert - which is not local stone - the nearest source would be across the estuary, in what is now north Wales.
     They may even have uncovered evidence of ritual practice in stone tools which appear to have been deliberately broken and buried in pits.
     Archaeologist Ron Cowell: "It looks as if we have the remains of three houses, or structures, which were very substantial, up to six metres across. They fit an emerging body of recent evidence, challenging the traditional view of people of this period as constantly on the move. Our site suggests that they had permanent structures which at the least they repeatedly returned to for part of the year."
     Cowell, curator of prehistoric archaeology at the museum of Liverpool, believes the earliest phase of the settlement was even older than the first definite dating evidence of 5,800 BCE.
     The finds, like others from coastal sites such as Scarborough in Yorkshire and Howick in Northumberland, are thousands of years older than famous Neolithic villages like Scara Brae on Orkney. They challenge the traditional view that Mesolithic Britons were nomadic.

Edited from The Guardian (19 November 2012)

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