Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Monday, 30 June 2008 16:30 UK

Neolithic house found during dig

Picture of how the Neolithic house is thought to have looked
The house would have had a central passage and two main rooms

Archaeologists have found the site of what they believe is one of England's oldest houses.

The Stone Age house was unearthed at Kingsmead Quarry in Horton, close to Windsor Castle, and is thought to be more than 5,000 years old.

Archaeologists also found flint tools, arrow heads and a bronze-age pin on the Berkshire site during the excavation.

Dr Alistair Barclay of Wessex Archaeology, said it was a rare discovery.

He said only about a dozen Neolithic or Stone Age houses had been discovered in England and the Horton house was one of the most complete examples yet found.

"This house is not big by today's standards," Dr Barclay said. "But it was a dramatically different from the tents that people had been living in before."

Archaeologists believe the walls of the 33ft (10m) by 16ft (5m) building were made of split logs and the pitched roof consisted of reeds or grass.

Aerial view of the excavation site
The find is thought to date to about the 37th century BC

It did not have a chimney and smoke seeped out through the roof, which was high enough to avoid catching fire from sparks from the fire.

Other Neolithic finds near to Horton include a burial site and a ritual processional way, known as a cursus, that stretched for 2.5 miles (4km).

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."

Dig reveals Neolithic burial site
26 Jun 08 |  Isle of Man
Dig unearths Neolithic settlement
25 Jun 08 |  North East Wales
Stonehenge builders' houses found
30 Jan 07 |  Science/Nature

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