Archaeologists Uncover Britain's Oldest House

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Over 10,000 years ago, British builders put up a hut. And it may be the most important building in the country.

Archaeologists from the University of York date the newly discovered building, found near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, to at least 8,500 BC -- more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge was erected.

The 11-foot wide building's remains were found near an ancient lake and close the remains of a wooden dock -- finds described by the researchers as the earliest evidence of carpentry in Europe and one of the most important buildings in the country.

The house predates what was previously Britain's oldest known dwelling at Howick, Northumberland, by at least 500 years.

The center of the structure had been hollowed out and filled with organic material. The researchers believe the floor was once carpeted with a layer of reeds, moss or grasses. The team believe there may once have been a fireplace.

None of the wood used to make the building has survived. Instead, archaeologists found the tell-tale signs of 18 timber posts, arranged in a circle. Chantal Conneller and Barry Taylor from the University of Manchester, along with Nicky Milner from the University of York, have been working at the site since 2004.

Conneller said it was used for at least 200  to 500 years -- and may have been abandoned for long stretches.

"This changes our ideas of the lives of the first settlers to move back into Britain after the end of the last Ice Age. We used to think they moved around a lot and left little evidence. Now we know they built large structures and were very attached to particular places in the landscape," she said.

The site was inhabited by hunter gatherers from just after the last ice age, for a period of between 200 and 500 years.

According to the team, they migrated from an area now under the North Sea, hunting animals including deer, wild boar, elk and enormous wild cattle known as auroch.

"This is a sensational discovery and tells us so much about the people who lived at this time," said Milner.

"The platform is made of hewn and split timbers; the earliest evidence of this type of carpentry in Europe. And the artifacts of antler, particularly the antler head-dresses, are intriguing as they suggest ritual activities."

Read more at the Daily Mail