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History: The Dawn of History


The first men and women came to Britain over two and a half million years ago. They were hunters and gatherers of food who used crude stone tools and weapons. But the British Isles only became islands separate from the rest of Europe about 8,500 years ago, when melting ice formed the English Channel! Today the English Channel separates Britain from France and the mainland of Europe.

3,000 years after Britain became an island, new tribes who came by boat from the mainland introduced farming. These tribes built earthworks for protection and as tombs for their dead. Many of these man-made hills and mounds can still be seen.

Later on, people learned to build stone monuments. The most amazing is Stonehenge, a circle of huge stones begun about 4,500 years ago. Stonehenge is the world's most famous prehistoric monument. We we don't know what it meant or what it was used for, though many different suggestions have been made.

About 3,000 years ago the climate in Britain became colder and wetter than before, and people had to move down from high ground. A bit later iron started to be used for tools and weapons instead of bronze. Knowledge of ironworking may have been brought by the Celts, a new wave of immigrants who started to arrive from southern Europe in about 500 BC (500 years Before the birth of Jesus Christ).

What we know about the first people in Britain has been worked out by archaeologists from the remains they left behind them.

Pytheas, a Greek, was the first person who could read and write to come to Britain. His visit was in about 330 BC, over 2000 years after Stonehenge was begun. Most of what Pytheas wrote has been lost, so we don't have any written record of Britain until the Romans came, almost 300 years after he did!

Chasing the Deer is a wild adventure about red deer and people in Scotland 10,000 years ago!


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