Evidence for first Londoners found at US embassy

Evidence for first Londoners found at US embassy

MOLA team

13 May 2014

Archaeologists from MOLA excavating the site of the new United States embassy in Vauxhall, in South London, have discovered evidence of prehistoric activity.

A flint tool dating to the Palaeolithic Period, approximately 700,000-10,000 BC, could be one of the earliest objects found in London. Other Mesolithic (10,000-4,000 BC) and Bronze Age (2,000-600 BC) tools were also found.

London has a long and rich history, which is often attributed as having begun with the arrival of the Romans. The site in South London was once a river consisting of smaller channels with sandy and gravelly islands in between. Some of the islands were large enough and dry enough for prehistoric people to settle on. The fertile, marshy banks provided access to rich food sources and were a perfect hunting ground for prehistoric communities.

Kasia Olchowska, one of our Senior Archaeologist, said: “What we have found may be the earliest archaeological evidence currently known from London. It will be interesting to see how this evidence relates to other prehistoric structures on the nearby Thames foreshore. We hope to be able to reconstruct and have a better understanding of the prehistoric landscape of a much wider area than at present.”

The flint tools found at the United States Embassy site are a rare discovery. In a City that has seen so much development, these fleeting glimpses of prehistoric people rarely survive. Further analysis of the flint tools needs to be carried out by our specialists to establish firm dates and learn more about their production and use.

Other discoveries on the site include a prehistoric fish trap, approximately 12 metres long, and evidence for camp fires.

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