Britain: The Neolithic Age

At the close of the last great Ice Age, Britain’s climate gradually improved, which permitted the early British to become more settled, leading eventually to fixed settlements.

This shift from a food gathering to a food cultivating society is known as the Neolithic Age (or Neolithic Revolution).

Larger populations could be sustained, thanks to a regular food supply, and this led to the emergence of professions that were not related to food production and survival.

The early British farmers cultivated cereals and other crops, and also kept animals such as cattle, pigs and dogs.

(Above) Stonehenge, as it stands today. Building work began circa 3,500 BC and finished approximately 1,000 BC. This timescale makes Stonehenge older than the Great Pyramids of Ancient Egypt.

Some of the most well-preserved farms in Europe are to be found in the British Isles, such as those in Ireland.

The early British built houses made of timber and hunted with weapons made from flint.

They clothed themselves with garments made of leather and left behind some impressive examples of pottery.

(Above) The stones used at Stonehenge were cut on site and used an ingenious ball and joint system to lock into place, as illustrated. The early British who built megalith monuments such as these were no intellectual or technical barbarians, proving wrong the often malicious propaganda portraying the inhabitants of early Europe and Britain as barbarians who lived in caves.

The early British also left behind a huge number of burial mounds, where prehistoric British leaders were laid to rest after religious rituals were performed.

The early British also left behind enormous stone monuments, known as megaliths, the most famous being Stonehenge in southern England.

The first part of Stonehenge was built roughly 1,000 years before the Great Pyramids of Ancient Egypt, while the last parts were finished around the year 1,000 BC, hundreds of years before the splendid Ancient Greek or Roman civilisations.

(Above) Building Megaliths was an immense undertaking. The effort required to pull one of the massive stones erect was in itself a marathon effort, and then raising the equally huge lintels onto the top of other stones required a great deal of planning and foresight. Exactly how the early British did it is still a puzzle to archaeology. These illustrations of how the stones were raised and of how a lintel was placed are the most commonly accepted theories of how these superhuman feats were achieved thousands of years ago.

Some of these megaliths are incredible achievements, and the techniques used to create them still puzzle archaeology.

The early British also created the world’s oldest step pyramid.

This pyramid, called Silbury Hill, is situated close to the modern town of Marlborough, Wiltshire, in southern England.

It stands almost 40 metres high and dates from approximately 2,660 BC, older than the pyramids of Egypt.

(Above) An aerial photo of Silbury Hill, the world's oldest step pyramid, in Wiltshire, England.

(Above) Illustration showing the steps of the Silbury Hill pyramid buried underneath a layer of earth.

Historians tend to refer to the early British, and their kinsfolk in Europe and elsewhere, as barbarians.

But structures such as Stonehenge and Silbury Hill, and thousands of others, created with tremendous effort and advanced techniques, expose this as an unfair assessment.

The early British were an advanced society, able to create monuments that still baffle modern archaeologists.

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