1. Introduction to the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic Periods

The Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods are concerned with the fundamental developments in physical and cultural evolution which brought humanity from its very earliest hominin ancestry to a stage (the Neolithic) at which agricultural food production became the economic norm. These developments took place over an enormous extent of time – several million years – and against a backdrop of major climatic, geophysical, and ecological changes during the Pleistocene and early Holocene (Bell & Walker 2005).

A distribution map showing all the sites mentioned in the report

Distribution map of sites mentioned in the text © RCAHMS. Site lists and this distribution map can be downloaded from here.

A spiral timeline showing key dates and sites showing human occupation in Britain

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