|22 May 2014
Amesbury confirmed as oldest settlement in Britain
Following a landmark discovery by archaeologists, Amesbury - the nearest town to Stonehenge - has been declared the oldest continuous settlement in Britain, a title previously held by Thatcham, 65 kilometres to the east. University of Buckingham researchers found that Amesbury has been occupied since 8820 BCE - 1120 years earlier than Thatcham.
The people responsible for building the first monuments at Stonehenge, made of giant pine posts, continued to occupy the area for a further 3,000 years, close to the dawn of the Neolithic era when the first stone monument was built.
Archaeological research fellow and team leader David Jacques said the discovery "blows the lid off" the traditional understanding of Stonehenge, helping to explain why it was built where it was.
The origins of Amesbury emerged as a result of carbon dating the bones of aurochs, wild boar and red deer, following a dig at Vespasian's Camp, 2400 metres from Stonehenge. The dig, which took place in October, also unearthed the largest haul of worked flints from the Mesolithic period.
The results provide the missing link between the erection of the pine posts between 8,820 and 6,590 BCE, and of Stonehenge in 3,000 BCE - which suggests that Stonehenge, rather than being seen as a neolithic new build in an empty landscape, should be viewed as a response to long-term use of the area.
The dig was filmed and is being made into a documentary to be screened later in the summer.
Edited from BBC News, The Telegraph (1 May 2014)
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