Archaeologists stunned to discover Britain’s A1 road is 10,000 years old
A team of archaeologists, who were working alongside the A1, the longest road in Britain, were shocked to discover evidence of a Mesolithic settlement which suggests the route may have been in use for 10,000 years, according to a report in The Express . This means the route predates previous estimates that claimed an ancient route in the same location was originally built by the Romans.
The A1 was built nearly a century ago and stretches 410 miles from London to Edinburgh. The earliest documented northern routes are the roads created by the Romans during the period from 43 to 410 AD, which consisted of several itinera recorded in the Antonine Itinerary. A combination of these were used by the Anglo-Saxons as the route from London to York, and together became known as Ermine Street, later known as Old North Road.
Archaeologists were carrying out excavations of a known Roman settlement along the road, ahead of plans to upgrade the junctions from 51 to 56 to motorway status, when they discovered a number of flint tools that date back to between 6,000 and 8,000 BC. They also found a small Mesolithic structure that resembled a type of shelter where they were making the flint tools. The site, near Catterick in North Yorkshire, is believed to have been used by people travelling north and south as an overnight shelter, similar to today’s motorway service stations.
Flint tools dating back to between 6,000 and 8,000 BC. Credit: North News & Pictures
Mesolithic structure discovered along the A1. Credit: North News & Pictures
“It was fascinating to find one of those was a Mesolithic site, a further 8,000 years into the past beyond the Romans,” said archaeologist Steve Sherlock. “This was a place that people knew of – a place they could return to on many occasions to stay overnight during their travels. There is evidence of people using the route and moving through the area over periods of time. It is also adding to our knowledge of the early Mesolithic period, a time we don’t know very much about.”