Britain’s early settlers

Discover more about the lives of early Britons and the world in which they lived.

The story of humans in Britain begins nearly one million years ago. At least four human species have lived here, in differing landscapes and climates, repeatedly driven out by extreme changes to the environment.

Who were the first Britons?

Discover the identity of three of the human species who inhabited Britain.

Meet the first Britons

Learn about other early human relatives

What was Britain like when they lived here?

Did you know that animals such as rhinoceros, mammoths and lions were a common sight for early Britons?

Find out how Britain’s climate and fauna have changed over the last million years.

Discover Britain's changing landscape and fauna

How do we know this?

Learn about fossil and archaeological discoveries and innovative scientific techniques that have helped inform our understanding of our ancient past.

See a map of key archaeological sites in Britain

Read the latest research news

Videos about significant sites

Find out how a storm revealed the earliest known evidence of humans in Britain. 

See how Gough’s Cave, in Somerset, is providing fascinating insights into the culture of early Britons and possible evidence of ritual cannibalism, and how a cave in Jersey taught archaeologists more about the hunting methods of Neanderthals.

Discovering the earliest footprints (video)

Cannibalism at Gough's Cave (video)

Neanderthal hunters (video)

Our experts

Professor Chris Stringer and his colleagues in the Human Origins Research Group at the Natural History Museum are at the forefront of research that is changing perceptions about how, when and where humans evolved.

Meet Prof Chris Stringer

The Ancient Human Occupation of Britain project