Amesbury is UK's oldest town with settlers since 8,820 BC


Textbooks will have to be rewritten as the distinction for the oldest and the longest continuous settlement in the United Kingdom is bequeathed on its rightful owner.

Experts at the University of Buckingham declared Amesbury, southwest of Wiltshire and home to Stonehenge, as the oldest town in Britain following a series of carbon dating tests on ancient bones and flints unearthed in town's chief landmark.

The title holder was previously the town of Thatcham in Berkshire but latest evidence suggested that the settlements in Amesbury have been around since 8,820 BC, forerunning the well-preserved remains of a Mesolithic settlement in Thatcham that dated only 7,700 BC.

The Buckingham team traced the origins of Amesbury after carbon dating bones of aurochs, or ancestors of domestic cattles, wild boar and red deer dug at Blick Mead in Vespasian's Camp, which is less than two miles away from Stonehenge.

Moreover, flints from a parish in Amesbury revealed that it has been inhabited without interruption since the nascent of the prehistoric settlement.

They also seemed to find the answer to the ultimate question of "why is Stonehenge where it is?" and filled the gap between the first pine posts for Stonehenge in 8,820 and 6,590 BC and the Stonehenge in 3,000 BC. Previously thought as an edifice by immigrants in Europe, the study affirms that it was, after all, the inhabitants of Amesbury who erected the colossal structure Stonehenge.

Amesbury is now engraved in the archives of the Guinness World Book of Records.

"The site blows the lid off the Neolithic Revolution in a number of ways. It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building, and presumably worshipping, monuments," said David Jacques of University of Buckingham, who is also an archeology research fellow that led the dig.

"The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself," he added.

In less than a year, Jacques and his team have discovered already more than 31,000 flints in two digs, the largest concentration by far, and have also hauled worked flints from the Mesolithic period.

The researchers have successfully uncovered heaps of evidence that Amesbury is the oldest existing town in Britain. But how was life like in Amesbury ten millennia ago?

As per Jacques, Blick Mead served as the "very first Stonehenge Visitor Center" that welcomed guests from different cultures docking at the nearby Avon River. Similar to present-day tourism, there would likely be a bunch of tour guides too and generous feasting of big game animals for the travelers to revel in.

He also noted that ancient people were attracted to the area because of the odd coloring of the area's flints, used for cutting and starting fire, which is bright pink.

"The coloring is caused by algae Hildenbrandia rivularis and it is due to a combination of dappled light and the unusually warm spring water in the area [that is] 10 to 15 degrees," Jacques explained.

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