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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 16:05 GMT
Meet the ancestor's ancient house
The Northumberland coast
The Northumberland coast near the Howick dig site
Amateur archaeologists in Northumberland have helped uncover what may be the UK's oldest home.

The find came after John Davies and Jim Hutchison discovered Mesolithic flints eroding from a cliff-edge at Howick, near Craster.

This prompted a detailed investigation by archaeologists at the University of Newcastle during 2000 and 2002.

Researchers uncovered the best preserved Stone Age home ever found in the UK, dating back to 7,800 BC.

The remains of a Mesolithic hut were found, revealing evidence of three distinct structural phases.

The Howick structure is the earliest dated evidence for human settlement in Northumberland, and one of only a few Stone Age dwellings known from the UK.

Burial sites

The Mesolithic, or Middle Stone Age, started in about 10,000BC, as the last Ice Age ended.

Over 18,000 pieces of flint were recovered during the excavations, as well as charred animal bone, charred hazelnut shells, red ochre and occasional shell fragments.

The work at Howick represents one of the most detailed Mesolithic excavations ever undertaken anywhere in Europe.

Five graves were also found at the site, four are thought to have been used for child burials, while only one was for an adult interment.

The Iron Age hill fort adjacent to the site was also surveyed as part of the project.

The excavations are featured in the BBC 2's Meet the Ancestors programme on Wednesday at 2100 GMT.

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