Segments in this Video

First Britons: Introduction (01:59)


Stone Age settlers were thought of as simple, itinerant people. Emerging evidence counters the assumptions.

Solent Straight (03:19)

The Britain the first Britons knew is often buried underground or under the sea. At Bouldnor Cliff, the ancient soil beneath the seabed remains the same as it was 8,000 years ago. Archaeologists uncovered well-preserved organic materials.

Bouldnor Cliff Site (02:42)

In 2013, archaeologists analyzed the landscape for DNA. Prof. Vince Gaffney describes the environment 8,000 years ago. Evidence of wheat challenges common ideas about the early Britons.

Doggerland (03:48)

After the end of the last ice age, Britain was not an island. Archaeologist Hans Peeters describes the landscape; he found unexpected clues about the inhabitants.

Soil Core (02:08)

Dr. Jim Innes studies how landscapes change over time. A charcoal layer across the moors provides evidence of Mesolithic fires.

Foreshadow of Farming? (02:48)

Ancient pollen grains allow Innes to identify plants of the Mesolithic period. Plant species indicate the landscape after a fire. Innes believes the Mesolithic fires on the moors were deliberate.

Blick Mead (04:27)

Archaeologist David Jacques discusses flint nodules he found in the ancient spring. Artifacts reveal information about Mesolithic daily life. A man-made feature near the spring indicates a possible degree of permanence, challenging traditional views of hunter gatherers.

Mud Flats (03:33)

Off the coast of South Wales, Prof. Martin Bell and his team find evidence of Mesolithic adaptability; see ancient footprints. Bell describes environmental changes during the Mesolithic period.

White Scar Caves (02:38)

Dr. Phil Hopley studies stalagmites to learn about the Mesolithic climate. A sample revealed a sudden and dramatic climate change that lasted approximately 150 years.

Dramatic Cooling (03:03)

Hopley states that the 8,200 year event affected much of northwest Europe. The bursting of the ice dam in North America sent over 163,000 cubic km of water into the north Atlantic; the meter rise in sea levels disrupted the Earth's climate.

Montrose Basin (03:04)

Dr. Sue Dawson studies an unusual band of sediment in the strata along the Scottish coastline; the sediment was deposited instantaneously.

Catastrophic Tsunami (02:19)

An event deposited a layer of sand five meters above sea level along 370 miles of British coastline. Off the coast of Norway, scientists discovered evidence of a marine landslide. The tsunami flooded Doggerland and in conjunction with rising sea levels, Britain became a series of islands.

New Stone Age (02:10)

A dramatic change in the way our ancestors lived occurred 6,000 years ago; pottery and monuments emerged, and people became farmers. Farming changed the way of life.

Shetland Islands (04:26)

Farming occurred on the remote islands during the Neolithic period. Dr. Janet Montgomery studies the remains of Neolithic ancestors found in a burial chamber; teeth reveal information about climate and diet. A layer of sand indicates farming was interrupted.

Western German Cave (02:28)

Evidence at an ancient burial ground suggests farming was not as popular with hunter gatherers as previously thought. Dr. Ruth Bollogino reveals the current excavation. She concludes that Mesolithic and Neolithic people coexisted in the area, both farming.

Coexistence? (03:28)

An isotope analysis revealed that the Neolithic people divided into two groups, farmers and non-farmers. Evidence reveals two societies living different lifestyles that sometimes intermarried.

Who Were the First Britons? (02:38)

A DNA study of the remains found in ancient U.K. burial grounds is underway. Jacques believes the Mesolithic culture survived into the Neolithic and beyond. Hear final thoughts from experts about the sophistication of the Mesolithic people.

Credits: First Britons (00:44)

Credits: First Britons

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First Britons

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This BBC Horizon program meets the scientists at the forefront of Stone Age exploration. New technologies are helping them to see the Earth during a previous age. Ancient DNA from the seabed reveals landscapes that in the prehistoric past were joined to continents, linking hunter-gatherer groups together. And chemical analysis of bones offers evidence of where these lost people came from. The results are controversial—who were the real bringers of civilization? A BBC Production.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL115640

ISBN: 978-1-68272-980-9

Copyright date: ©2015

Closed Captioned

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