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Mesolithic journey to Stonehenge with dog

07 Oct 2016
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An article by Arts correspondent Mark Brown on theguardian - Dog's tooth leads to discovery of earliest known journey in UK history - reports that archaeologists have found evidence of a 250-mile York to Wiltshire journey made 7,000 years ago made by a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer and a dog.

Mesolithic journey to Stonehenge with dog
Tooth of an alsatian dog discovered a mile from Stonehenge, Wiltshire. Image: University of Buckingham/PA

Archaeologist David Jacques, who leads the team digging at an encampment site called Blick Mead one mile from Stonehenge, is investigating the dog's tooth. The animal originally came from an area that is now the Vale of York. The long journey emphasizes that Mesolithic people were using domesticated dogs, probably for hunting. This is the earliest evidence of a journey that has been unearthed in Britain.

Archaeologist David Jacques, who leads the team digging at an encampment site called Blick Mead

David Jacques in Blick Mead. The site has yielded evidence of the earliest settlement near Stonehenge. Image: University of Buckingham/PA

The evidence was found by researchers at Durham University; isotope analysis of the tooth enamel revealed that the dog drank water that came from the Vale of York area. The dog itself is thought to be roughly the same size, shape and colour of an alsatian, but perhaps more wolf-like.

Jacques and his team believe people were coming to the spot over a 4,000-year period, from 7900BC to 4000BC.

 
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Jacques has led University of Buckingham digs at Blick Mead for nearly a decade, believing the area is key to the beginnings of people living in Britain because evidence of occupancy covers such a long period of time. Other discoveries include evidence of Mesolithic people feasting on huge oxen, known as aurochs, salmon, trout and hazelnuts.

Examination of a trench in Blick Mead

Examination of a trench in Blick Mead. Image: University of Buckingham/PA

Moreover, Jacques believes Blick Mead is crucial to our understanding of the stone circle at Stonehenge, erected in the late Neolithic period, at about 2500BC. This would have been, he claims, a multicultural environment. 

The Blick Mead site is close to the busy A303 and only 100 metres from the site of a proposed 1.8-mile tunnel, which would remove the road from the Stonehenge site. Clearly, Jacques is firmly against a tunnel, fearing it could alter the water table and make it impossible to continue digging at Blick Mead. 

Visit the British Isles Prehistory Archive:

http://www.bradshawfoundation.com/british_isles_prehistory_archive/index.php

 

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