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Stone Age House Found

Excavation of a Neolithic House at HortonExcavation of a Neolithic House at Horton

This page was posted in 2008. For the latest information about work on this site please visit the Horton Project Pages.

Archaeologists have found the site of one of England’s oldest houses. The Stone Age house at Horton, close to Windsor Castle, is thought by experts to be well over 5,000 years old.

The single story house at Horton was rectangular, some 10 metres long by 5 metres wide. Dr Alistair Barclay of Wessex Archaeology said ‘this house is not big by today’s standards. But it was a dramatically different from the tents that people had been living in before.’

The walls of the house were probably made of split logs and the pitched roof would have been of reeds or grass. Two partition walls either side of a central passage divided the house into two. These walls could have supported an upper story or attic in parts of the house.

Reconstruction of the Neolithic house at Horton, by Will Foster and Tom GoskarReconstruction of the Neolithic house at Horton, by Will Foster and Tom Goskar

There would not have been a chimney. Smoke would have seeped out through the roof which was high enough to avoid catching fire from sparks flying from the fire.

Other finds of Neolithic date near to Horton include a burial site and a ritual processional way known as a cursus that stretched for 2.5 miles. Because of their size, these burial and ritual sites have been easier for archaeologists to find.

In contrast only about a dozen Neolithic or Stone Age houses are known from England and the Horton house is one of the most complete examples yet found. Pending radiocarbon dating, the house is thought to date to about the 37th century BC. Pieces of pottery and flint tools from the house and some nearby pits are consistent with this dating.

Aerial view of the Neolithic house during excavationAerial view of the Neolithic house during excavation

Dr Barclay added ‘we used to think of the Neolithic as the time when people started to farm. The evidence we now have, shows that hunting and gathering wild foods was still important. Crops were grown, but on a small scale. We can also see that cattle, pig and sheep were herded. It may be that in the river valleys, clearings for grazing came to be used for growing crops.’

Andy Spencer of CEMEX, who are paying for the dig, said ‘we have just installed a high-tech ready mix concrete plant and overhead there are planes taking off and landing at Heathrow. But what these Stone Age people built all that time ago using just stone tools and natural materials is really impressive. They were innovators too.’

Find out about our other discoveries at Horton.

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