Page last updated at 19:28 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 20:28 UK

'Oldest' human settlement found

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The two-week dig was sparked by finds of a dog walker

Archaeologists working for the National Trust think they have found west Dorset's oldest human settlement.

Excavations over the last two weeks began when a number of artefacts were found by a man walking his dog.

Experts now believe people lived on Doghouse Hill on the Golden Cap estate up to 10,000 years ago.

Finds included a stone hearth, fire pit and pot shards from Bronze Age periods (2,500 to 1,000BC) and others from the Mesolithic Age (10,000 to 4,000BC)

Martin Papworth, from the National Trust, said: "Although it's a stunning coastal site now, 6,000 to 8,000 years ago this area would have been over a mile inland.

To find ancient pottery decorated with fingernail impressions and touch them with one's own hand, that's real contact with the past
Martin Papworth, National Trust

"The Mesolithic people who lived on top of Doghouse hill would have pre-dated farming, so would have been hunter-gatherers using these flints to work hides, cut meat and scrape fat from animal skins.

"After millennia of erosion, it's at risk of disappearing into the sea itself."

Further tests will now be carried out to accurately date the finds, which include ancient pottery decorated with fingernail imprints.

Mr Papworth added: "To find ancient pottery decorated with fingernail impressions and touch them with one's own hand, that's real contact with the past."

The dog walker whose finds sparked the dig has collected scores of artefacts in the area for more than 40 years, with many of his pieces housed in the Dorset County Museum.



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