A Stone Age “eco home” has been discovered in the Stonehenge landscape that was built at least 1,300 years before Stonehenge, making it the oldest prehistoric building ever found in the area. It was discovered by archaeologists immediately adjacent to a sacred Stone Age spring.
The find was made by an archaeological dig run by the University of Buckingham’s Archaeology Project Director David Jacques. This means that early British history could be rewritten, as up to now it’s been assumed Mesolithic families lived a purely nomadic existence, the University wrote in a press release.
The Stone Age “eco home” is seen as an important find, as it is believed it was constructed by indigenous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers at a time when the first semi-agricultural European Neolithic settlers were first arriving in the area.
The home was named “eco” because the base of a giant tree around 30 feet (9 meters) was used as one of the walls, which has never been seen before in the Stonehenge area. The wooden wall was lined with flints; the floor, which was around 10 feet (3 meters), was lined with cobbles. The roof appeared to have been made of animal skin, and they had a stone hearth close by.
There were also a number of large stones that had been placed near the building’s wall, which archaeologists believe could have been used as primitive “storage heaters.” The stones would have been heated by a fire and then placed where people slept instead of having a fire burning all night. This discovery shows just how resourceful people were, and and how eco-friendly they were long before we ever imagined.
Tools that were found inside the Stone Age “eco home” were Mesolithic (pre-Neolithic).
The archaeological discoveries are showing that within a few generations, the population at the site had adopted the Neolithic tool making traditions, or perhaps may had been physically displaced by Neolithic settlers, The Independent reported.
The University said that archaeologists think this area, Blick Mead, a mile from Stonehenge, is key to the beginnings of people living in Britain because evidence of occupancy has been found to be continuous from 7600 B.C. to 4246 B.C., an astonishing 3,000 years encompassing a time when Britain became an island. Whoever lived in the dwellings may have been the forefathers of those who built Stonehenge, experts believe.
David Jacques and the excavations at Blick Mead near Stonehenge:
The site had a large cobbled area that covered 969 square feet (90 square meters), and included a pathway immediately adjacent to it. The path was also cobbled and led to a spring that the Mesolithic people used for making ritual offerings.
The teeth of aurochs, which were creatures larger than today’s bulls, were also found at the dig site, as well as burnt charcoal; that indicates Stone Age man feasted on the creatures. There was also evidence of salmon, trout, and hazlenuts that had been dug up.
David Jacques, who has been running digs at the site for a decade, said:
‘This is a key site for where Britain began.’
“It is the only continuously occupied Mesolithic site in Western Europe, and we believe the ‘eco home’ is the sort of place the first Brits lived in.”
The researchers believe that Blick Mead was likely to have been chosen because it had a constant temperature spring at the time when Britain was thawing after the Ice Age. It also would have had a large variety of plants that the Mesolithic families would have used for food, work, and medicinal purposes. Having the river Avon adjacent to the site would have also been an attraction, since it could have been a key transport route to this Mesolithic and future hub point.
The site, which is just over a mile east of Stonehenge, has given up tens of thousands of artifacts that were placed there by these Stone Age people. The finds include over 20,000 flint tools, a slate arrow head from Cornwall or Wales, a large sandstone animal skin smoother, pieces of burnt flint, and more than 2,400 animal bones.
The ground-breaking discovery of the Stone Age ‘eco home’ could already be under threat.
Archaeologists fear that a Government-backed plan to put the A303 in a cutting and tunnel will change the local water level, which would destroy or at the very least damage the spring, and any important and potentially unique water-logged archaeological remains.
“I am very concerned that any reduction in the groundwater level at the spring site and elsewhere in the Avon valley might potentially be a threat to archaeologically important waterlogged organic artifacts and ancient environmental evidence,” Jacques told The Independent.
“Something at Blick Mead kept attracting generations back to the site, the cradle of Stonehenge. These people are adapting to nature in a really sophisticated and intuitive way, in contrast to our Government in the 21st century who are expecting nature and our history to adapt to our needs to build a tunnel through this precious countryside,” Jacques said in a statement.
In a joint statement, Historic England, English Heritage, and the National Trust said: “Our understanding of the site will no doubt be enhanced by the work recently undertaken by the University of Buckingham, and we are confident that its importance will be taken into consideration as the various options for the Government’s road scheme are developed.
“We look forward to hearing more about this important Mesolithic site and seeing the full academic results when available.”