August 13, 2009

Oldest British dwelling found

British archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a dwelling built 8,000 to 9.000 years ago on the Isle of Man.

The site in Ronaldsway was discovered during work to extend the runway on the island's main airport, the Daily Mail reported Thursday.

The shelter, believed to have been made of animal skins supported on substantial wooden posts, is the oldest dwelling to be found in the British Isles. It dates several thousand years before Stonehenge and not long after the retreat of the last glacier.

Scientists say the shelter probably resembled the North American tepee or the Mongolian yurt. They also say the site appears to have been inhabited for many years, based on 12,000 pieces of worked flint, tools and large piles of hazelnut shells.

The ring of post holes suggest the shelter had beams 6 inches thick.

The received wisdom is that 8,000 years ago people constantly moved through the landscape as nomads, gathering their food from the land, rather than staying put and farming and harvesting it, said Andrew Johnson, a field archaeologist with Manx National Heritage. But this building was constructed from substantial pieces of timber, and had a hearth for cooking and warmth.