The World of Stonehenge: Episode 1 The Age of Ice
In this documentary, Scottish archeologist Neil Oliver explores the archeological evidence for the earliest human settlement of the UK.
The oldest remains he presents are those of Boxgrove Man (or Woman), whose relatives left thousands of tools (mainly hand axes). Carbon dating reveals the remains (and tools) to be 400,000 years old. Genetic testing reveals that Boxgrove Man/Woman was distinct from Homo sapiens, the human species that evolved in Africa. He/she may or may not be related to the Neanderthals.
The next oldest human remains are 33,000 years old and are genetically identical to Homo sapiens (ie modern man). Homo sapiens hunters migrated to Europe from African around 40,000 years ago. These 33,000 year-old remains, which predate the last Ice Age, stem from a period during which Britain was still a peninsula attached to the European mainland and 20,000 to 30,000 Homo sapiens hunters populated all of Europe.
According to Oliver, the last Ice Age began 30,000 years ago and reached its peak 18,000 years ago. However by 12,000 BC, the ice sheets retreated sufficiently for a few human hunters to return to the UK. Archeologists have discovered human artifacts and cave art dating from 14,000 years ago.
A second Big Freeze engulfed all of Europe between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago. Geological evidence reveals Britain, which was still a peninsula, was repopulated with hunters around 10,000 years ago and has been continuously populated ever since.
Around 4,000 BC years ago, one of the largest tsunamis ever recorded with set off by a giant landslide in Norway. Creating ten meter high waves, it traveled 40 kilometers inland, killing all human settlers on the west coast of Britain. It also created the English Channel, which presently separates the UK from Western Europe.