One million years
Rewriting the human story in Britain

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When was Britain first colonised by early humans? The famous Boxgrove bones, found in the 1990s, date back about 500,000 years, and are still the earliest hominin fossils yet found on these shores. Flints from the Cromer Forest Bed, Norfolk, though, are increasingly pointing to a much longer duration. We explore how the story of early human activity in Britain, currently the subject of a major Natural History Museum exhibition, has come to span almost one million years (below, left).

You probably already know there is a new experience awaiting people at Stonehenge. We take a close look at the long-awaited visitor centre (above, right), and ask whether its opening marks the dawn of slow tourism or disenfranchises the ten-minute visitor? Chris Catling and Andrew Selkirk offer two contrasting takes on the successor to facilities condemned as a ‘national disgrace’.

A recent arrival at RAF Museum Cosford remembers a very different national emergency. Dornier Do17 bombers were widely used by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. Now recovery of one that ditched in the sea (below, left) is shedding light on a bomber arms-race, and the desperate aerial combat raging over England in 1940.

Traces of violence have been detected, too, on skulls deposited on the banks of the Walbrook in London (above, right). Dating to the Roman period, do these testify to a previously unknown blip in the Pax Romana, or provide a grisly insight into public entertainment, criminal justice, or the treatment of prisoners of war?

Also this month, we travel to Winchester for a special news report on the latest attempt to recover the remains of a missing monarch.


Matt Symonds

Editor, Current Archaeology


On the website this month:

When did our early ancestors first arrive in Britain? The latest findings from a 13-year investigation suggest hominins could have reached these shores twice as long ago as previously thought.
A fragment of human pelvis excavated in Winchester is ‘very likely’ to be part of the remains of King Alfred the Great (849-899), or his son Edward, archaeologists have announced.
Archaeologists have found the earliest human footprints known outside Africa, dating back 800,000 years, at Happisburgh on the Norfolk coast. 

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In this issue:


One million years of our human story
Making a Neolithic circle fit for purpose
Raising the Goodwin Sands Dornier Do17

Roman Headhunters in London?

The mystery of the Walbrook skulls



Roman coffins and rinderpest at Dickens Square, London; Lost Viking loot at the British Museum; Broxmouth hillfort: earliest evidence of steelmaking in Britain; HMS Amethyst: lost and found off Plymouth Sound; A burning question: Pentrefelin's Medieval mound; Expanding Silchester's Iron Age hallmarks

The search for Alfred the Great


Further details of Current Archaeology Live! 2014.

The ruin of Roman Britain; Living and working in the Roman world; The emergent past

Chris Catling's irreverent take on heritage issues

Last Word
Andrew Selkirk reflects on his recent trip to the new Stonehenge visitor centre

Odd Socs
The West Gallery Music Association


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