An archaeological excavation at a site near Pulborough, West Sussex, has thrown remarkable new light on the life of northern Europe's last Neanderthals. It provides a snapshot of a thriving, developing population, rather than communities on the verge of extinction.
The team, led by Dr Matthew Pope of Archaeology South East based at the UCL Institute of Archaeology, is undertaking the first modern, scientific investigation of the site since its original discovery in 1900. During the construction of a monumental house known as 'Beedings' some 2,300 perfectly preserved stone tools were removed from fissures encountered in the foundation trenches.
"The tools we've found at the site are technologically advanced and potentially older than tools in Britain belonging to our own species, Homo sapiens," says Pope. "It's exciting to think that there's a real possibility these were left by some of the last Neanderthal hunting groups to occupy northern Europe. The impression they give is of a population in complete command of both landscape and natural raw materials with a flourishing technology - not a people on the edge of extinction."