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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pre History of Britain: Ancient Ancestors of Henwoods

The Palaeolithic (Old Stone Age) Britain was the time of the earliest known occupation of Britain by humans.  There were many changes in the environment such as several glacial and interglacial episodes that affected human settlement there.  They were in bands of hunter-gatherers who roamed Northern Europe following herds of animals.  They also supported themselves by fishing. 

DNA analysis shows that modern humans arrived in Britain at least 25,000 years ago.   This was before the start of the last Ice Age. As the Ice Age came to them from the north, the first humans living in Britain retreated to Southern Europe  as the land became covered with ice or frozen as tundra.

The sea's level was about 417 feet lower than it is today.  This means that Britain was joined to Ireland by a land bridge.  Boats were no longer needed.  This also caused Britain to be joined to Continental Europe by an area of dry land referred to today as Doggerland. 

The end of the last Ice Age was around 9500 BC.  Ireland again became separated from Britain due to the rising tides.  Later, around 6500 BC, Britain was cut off from the rest of Europe by the same problem. 

Archaeology shows that Homo sapiens had reoccupied Britain by 12,000 BC because it was then warmer and more hospitable.  Around 4000 BC the island was populated by people with a Neolithic culture.  They had never developed any writing, however.  No literature of pre-Roman Britain has survived.  All that is know about it is through archaeological finds, and genetic evidence.  Linguistic evidence comes from river and hill names, covered in articles on the Pre-Celtic and Celtic cultures.

The first written articles about Britain and its people was made by Pytheas, the Greek navigator who explored Britain's coast around 325 BC.  Ancient Britons were involved in maritime trade with Europe from the Neolithic time onwards, as they exported tin that they had much of.  Julius Caesar wrote about Britain around 50 BC after expeditions in 55 and 54 BC.  In 54 he was probably trying to invade in the SE part of Britain but failed.

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