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Thousands of people joined druids and pagans who gathered together to celebrate the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge, the shortest day and longest night of the year.

Stone-age humans began using lethal technology 71,000 years ago to fight Neanderthals

The date when stone-age humans first invented the lethal technology of spears and arrows has been set back many thousands of years with the discovery of small stone blades dating to 71,000 years ago.

Debate about the Neanderthals' fate has raged for decades

Neanderthals vs. Humans: Who would win in a fight?

We've had Alien vs. Predator, Monsters vs. Aliens and Dracula vs. Frankenstein, but what would happen if modern man and his prehistoric ancestor were to square off?

Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry in 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

Beasts of the Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin, 93 mins (12A)

This Sundance-winning fantasy is a cajun-spiced primal stew of a film, until cutesiness creeps in

Boy discovers 30,000-year-old mammoth

An 11 year-old Russian boy made one of the discoveries of the century when he stumbled across the remains of a 30,000-year-old woolly mammoth, the New Scientist reports.

DVD/Blu-ray: The Land That Time Forgot (PG)

Men of a certain age (my age) hold this Amicus-produced sci-fi caper from 1975 with affection and as cheap-looking and silly as it undoubtedly is, its still has its pleasures.

Neanderthal man's 'life of domesticity'

Neanderthal man may have preferred domestic chores to a rugged hunter-gatherer lifestyle, researchers have said.

Also showing: The Giants, Ice Age: Continental Drift, Chariots of Fire and Salute

The Giants (84 mins, 15)

Three boys in their early teen years, having been abandoned by their parents, roam the Belgian countryside having both sad and funny misadventures one summer.

A detail from the 'Panel of Hands', El Castillo Cave in northern Spain showing red disks and hand stencils made by blowing or spitting paint onto the wall. A date from a calcium carbonate layer covering one of the red disks has revealed that the painting is more than 41,000 years old, making it the oldest known definitively-dated cave art in Europe. The image of the bison was painted by other Prehistoric people long after the hand images had been created.

Brutish? You have to hand it to the Neanderthals after all

Cave paintings dated as 15 milliennia older than originally thought, making them Europe's earliest known paintings

Hedge Britannia: a curious history of a British obsession, By Hugh Barker

Barrier, border, habitat, evergreen history – a rich past dwells inside your humble hedge.

Night at the museum: Priceless treasures at the Natural History Museum after hours

In the 2004 film Night at the Museum, Ben Stiller’s security guard was in for quite a shock when the exhibited T-Rex skeleton sprang to life and began to chase him around the building.

New Zealand's penguin power

A giant penguin more than 4ft (1.2m) tall roamed New Zealand about 27 million years ago, according to paleontologists who have reconstructed it from fossil remains.

Craig Rhos-y-Felin, north Pembrokeshire: the newly discovered original source of some of the early stones used or installed at and around Stonehenge in the Neolithic

Scientists discover source of rock used in Stonehenge's first circle

Discovery reignites debate over transportation of smaller standing stones

Poetry: Songs of elegance and of experience

Christmas books of the year

What lies within: Why we are fascinated by caves

They inspire artists, hold ancient secrets and, in the popular imagination, they're the refuge of bandits and terrorists. Caves remain unmapped in our know-everything age.
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Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
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A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
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Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all