British history

Early British history

A farming settlement in Britain about 3000 years agoA farming settlement in Britain about 3000 years ago The first people to arrive in Britain did so at least 850,000 years ago. At that time, Britain and Ireland were joined together with the continent of Europe (they did not become separate islands until around 6500 BC). At this time, the world was in the grip of the Ice Ages: on eight occasions, most of Britain became covered in a deep layer of ice and was completely uninhabitable. Its people then moved south to live in warmer lands. Around 11,500 years ago, the climate warmed up for good. By around 4500 BC, Britons had started to farm the land, make weapons and tools, and build houses and other buildings.


Boxgrove man butchering a rhinoBoxgrove man butchering a rhino 

The first Britons

Preparing and cooking fish about 20,000 years agoPreparing and cooking fish about 20,000 years agoThe first people to arrive in Britain walked across the land bridge from the European continent around 850,000 years ago. These early people were a type of early human known as Homo heidelbergensis (Heidelbergs) and lived by hunting wild animals and eating fruits, berries, nuts and edible plants. They wore animal skins and lived in caves and simple shelters made of branches. Neanderthals arrived in Britain possibly around 130,000 years ago, then disappeared about 30,000 years ago. Modern-day humans, Homo sapiens, first arrived in Britain from mainland Europe 41,000 to 44,000 years ago.
 

In 2000, a flint handaxe was found in Norfolk, England, which experts have dated to between 550,000 and 700,000 years old. It is the earliest known object made by humans in Britain.

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