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Prehistory of the British Isles: A tale of coming and going

  • I. De GrooteEmail author
  • M. Lewis
  • C. Stringer
Note / Note


It is now recognised that Britain has not always been geographically isolated from Europe and, for most of the last one million years, formed an extension of the northwest European landmass. During most of this time, Britain was accessible to migrating humans and animals, although climatic conditions varied greatly from Mediterranean-like through to glaciations and extreme cold, making Britain a difficult place to settle for any length of time. The oldest evidence for humans in Britain dates to between about 850,000 and 1 million years ago. Recovered lithic artefacts suggest that hominin species occupied and deserted the British Isles at least nine times. This article reviews the prehistory of the British Isles and presents the main sites and time periods.


Pleistocene Palaeolithic Migration Homo sapiens Homo neanderthalensis Homo heidelbergensis Homo antecessor 

La préhistoire des îles britanniques : une histoire de va-et-vient


Il est bien connu que les îles britanniques n’ont pas toujours été des îles et que pendant la plus grande partie du dernier million d’années, elles faisaient partie d’une péninsule s’étendant à partir (ou à l’extrémité) du Nord-Ouest de l’Europe. Cette région était alors accessible aux Hommes et aux animaux venant du continent. Les conditions climatiques ont varié entre celles trouvées aujourd’hui en Méditerranée et les conditions désertiques des régions polaires, rendant la Grande-Bretagne un endroit difficile à habiter. La plus ancienne preuve de présence humaine en Grande- Bretagne date entre 850 000 et 1 million d’années. Les industries lithiques suggèrent que les espèces d’homininés se sont depuis installées puis ont déserté les îles britanniques au moins neuf fois. Dans cet article, nous proposons une revue des connaissances sur la préhistoire des îles britanniques, à partir des principaux sites et périodes correspondantes.

Mots clés

Pléistocène Paléolithique Migration Homo sapiens Homo neanderthalensis Homo heidelbergensis Homo antecessor 


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Copyright information

© Société d'anthropologie de Paris et Lavoisier 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Centre in Evolutionary Anthropology and Palaeoecology, School of Natural Sciences and PsychologyJohn Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Earth Sciences DepartmentNatural History MuseumLondonUK

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