Humans in Britain

At least four human species have lived in Britain, in differing landscapes and climates, repeatedly driven out by extreme changes to the environment.

Discover the lives of these early people, the world in which they lived, and the science behind our ideas.

The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project is one of many investigations over the years into the lives of the earliest Britons.

This 13-year collaboration between the Natural History Museum and other research institutions has rewritten Britain’s human story, re-estimating the earliest known human presence to nearly one million years ago.

  • Homo heidelbergensis is the first human species we have fossil evidence for in Britain
    The first Britons

    Scientists have uncovered the identity of three of the human species who inhabited Britain. Meet them, and the likeliest candidate for first pioneer, here.

  • Traces of the earliest known humans in Britain, uncovered at Happisburgh
    Discovering the earliest pioneers (video)

    Follow the research into exciting new traces of the earliest known humans in Britain.

  • Map of important archaeological sites revealing the presence of ancient humans in Britain
    Map of key archaeological sites

    Explore areas around Britain that have offered up important evidence of early humans and identify the key fossil and artefact discoveries.

  • View of the fissure in the cliffs at La Cotte where Neanderthals sheltered
    Neanderthal hunters (video)

    Join scientists as they try to solve a mammoth mystery at La Cotte de St Brelade in Jersey. This site explains a great amount about Neanderthal behaviour.

  • Early Britons encountered animals such as rhinos
    What was Britain like?

    Early occupants of Britain encountered a very different land to the one we know today. Discover how the environment has changed over the past million years.

  • Gough's Cave provides evidence of human culture 14,700 years ago
    Cannibalism at Gough's Cave (video)

    Find out what human remains excavated from this Somerset cave reveal about human behaviour 14,700 years ago.

Neil Bowman showing his fossil discoveries to Museum archaeologist Simon Parfitt

New video: Clues to Britain’s own ancient Atlantis

A treasure trove of fossils found on a UK beach could point scientists to the world's oldest undersea archaeological site.

Museum archaeologist Simon Parfitt discusses the finds.

Watch the film

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