Natural History Museum stages prehistoric family reunion


Archaeology Correspondent

For the first time ever, all the major British remains from different Stone Age human species are being brought together in a ground-breaking temporary exhibition – Britain: One Million Years of the Human Story.

Their remains, and examples of the artefacts they made, will be displayed to the public for the next seven and a half months.

It is the first time that many of the items have been on public display. They include northern Europe’s oldest flint tools, made in Norfolk at least 850,000 years ago – probably by an early human species called Homo antecessor; a 500,000-year-old human leg bone from another extinct human species, Homo heidelbergensis, found in Sussex; a 400,000-year-old early Neanderthal human skull from Kent; 230,000-year-old Neanderthal jaw fragments and teeth from Wales; 40,000-year-old bone fragments and teeth of Britain’s earliest known modern humans (our species - Homo sapiens) from Kent’s Cavern, Devon; and the famous ‘Red Lady of Paviland’ – a ritually ochre-stained male Homo sapiens skeleton from Wales, dating back 40,000 years.

Professor Chris Stringer, of the Natural History Museum, a world authority on human origins said: “Britain has one of the richest yet most underappreciated records of early human history in the world”.


The 400,000-year-old female skull, found in Swanscombe in Kent, has not been on public display for many decades. From a young adult woman, it was discovered in one of the most important prehistoric archaeological zones in Britain, where, over the years, some 10,000 Neanderthal hand axes have been found.

The exhibition – open to the public from Thursday 13 February to 28 September - will also feature specially commissioned Neanderthal and Stone Age Homo sapiens models that are the most life-like and scientifically accurate ever made. Also exposed will be skeletal material from Somerset that shows clear evidence of cannibalism 14,700 years ago, a hippo tooth from Trafalgar Square, and a woolly rhinoceros skull from Peterborough.  

The exhibition also features reflections on prehistoric personal ancestries, derived from DNA analysis, from comedian Bill Bailey; TV presenter and author, Clive Anderson; TV presenter, Sian Williams; scientist and broadcaster, Professor Alice Roberts; medical researcher and broadcaster, Dr Kevin Fong; and space scientist, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock .

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before