Earliest journey in British history unearthed

6 October 2016

Prehistoric mans’ best friend was a dog, it seems – evidence of the earliest journey in British history has been uncovered by University of Buckingham and University of Durham researchers which points to a dog and people coming to the Stonehenge area, from northern or eastern England, 2,000 years before the stone circle began to be built.

University of Buckingham senior research fellow, archaeologist Professor David Jacques, and his team found the domesticated dog’s tooth at Blick Mead, 2 km from Stonehenge. The site has already yielded the most Mesolithic finds in the whole of the World Heritage Site, with over 35,000 stone age worked flints, 2,000 animal bones and the earliest dated residential and activity area home found in the Stonehenge landscape. Blick Mead is the longest continuously used Mesolithic site in Britain (7900 – 4050 Cal BC).

Oxygen isotope analysis of the tooth by Bryony Rogers of Durham University, has revealed that the water the dog drank when it was young may have been located at least 100 miles away from Blick Mead and possibly as far north as the Vale of York. Previous work by Durham University showed that the people at the site feasted on aurochs, wild pig, red deer and fish. Ms Rogers analysis of carbon isotopes in the dog’s teeth shows the dog eating the same and therefore captures a long distance journey of this type for the first time. Professor Peter Rowley-Conwy, of Durham University, said that the findings “reveal that the dog would have been roughly the size, shape and possible colour of an alsatian.” A peer review article published next year will argue that it may have journeyed to the area as a prestige hunting dog in order to participate in a prestige hunt.

David Jacques said: “The fact that a dog and a group of people were coming long distance to the Blick Mead area underlines how important the place was millennia before Stonehenge was built. Discoveries like this potentially provide a new and important back story to the early establishment of the ritual landscape in the area.

See also: