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History Course

Lesson 2: Prehistoric Britons

Where did people come from?

Some of our earliest ancestors appeared in Africa about 4.5 million years ago. They were ape-like animals called Australopithecus, and they walked on two legs. But, about two million years later, a new kind of early human arrived on the scene. While Australopithecus never ventured beyond Africa, these creatures, known as Homo erectus, spread out over much of the word, including prehistoric Europe.

A small collection of man-mad stone tools, dating back about 750,000 years ago, has been unearthed near the town of Pakefield in Suffolk. This is the oldst evidence of human life in Britain. The early humans who left these tools behind were probably descendants of Homo erectus. Britain was home to these people for thousands of years. However, about 650,000 years ago, a period of glaciation set in, and the cold drove them away.

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