Swanscombe Heritage Park

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Hand axes from Swanscombe at the British Museum found by Marston (not on display)
Mammoth tooth excavated from the site

Swanscombe Heritage Park or Swanscombe Skull Site is a 3.9 hectares (9.6 acres) geological Site of Special Scientific Interest Swanscombe in north-west Kent.[1][2] The site has two Geological Conservation Review sites,[3][4] and a National Nature Reserve.[5]

The park is in a former gravel quarry, Barnfield Pit.[6] The area was already famous for numerous Palaeolithic-era handaxes—mostly Acheulean and Clactonian artifacts, some as much as 400,000 years old.

In 1935/1936 work at Barnfield Pit uncovered two fossilised skull fragments. These fragments were the remains of Swanscombe Man. The bones were later found to have belonged to a young woman.[7] The Swanscombe skull were early Neanderthal, dating to the Hoxnian Interglacial around 400,000 years ago.[8]

They are one of only two sites in Britain which have yielded Lower Palaeolithic human fossils, together with the 500,000-year-old Homo heidelbergensis leg bones and teeth at Boxgrove.

The skull fragments were found in the lower middle terrace gravels at a depth of almost eight metres beneath the surface. Further excavations, carried out between 1968-1972 uncovered more animal bone and flint tools, and established the extent of a former shoreline that the bones were found on.

Most of the bone finds are now in the Natural History Museum in London, and the stone finds are at the British Museum. The other key paleolithic sites in the UK are Happisburgh, Pakefield, Pontnewydd, Kents Cavern, Paviland, and Gough's Cave.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Designated Sites View: Swanscombe Skull Site". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  2. "Map of Swanscombe Skull Site". Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  3. "Swanscombe - Barnfield Pit (Quaternary of the Thames)". Geological Conservation Review. Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  4. "Barnfield Pit (Pleistocene Vertebrata)". Geological Conservation Review. Joint Nature Conservation Committee. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  5. "Designated Sites View: Swanscombe Skull Site". National Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 14 January 2018.
  6. "Swanscombe Skull Site citation" (PDF). Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Natural England. Retrieved 15 January 2018.
  7. Francis Wenban-Smith, Interpretation Archived 2013-07-26 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 6 May 2008
  8. "Neanderthal woman in pieces". Natural History Museum, London. 11 February 2014. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 15 January 2018.