French introduced farming to Britain: study

December 8, 2009

( -- Simon Fraser University archeologists Mark Collard and Kevan Edinborough and colleagues from University College London have uncovered evidence that French farmers introduced agriculture to Britain some 60 centuries ago.

The researchers note that without the civilizing influence of their Gallic neighbours, the Brits might have continued running around with spears for hundreds of years more instead of cultivating plants and animals.

Their work, published in the most recent Journal of Archeological Science, contradicts previous theories that indigenous British hunter-gatherers developed farming independently.

The archeologists studied carbon-14 dates for bones, wood and grains from about 6,000 years ago at locations throughout Great Britain and determined that the population of the island more than quadrupled in just 400 years.

“We also found evidence that this increase occurred first in southern and shortly afterwards in central Scotland,” says Collard, an associate professor and Canada Research Chair in human evolutionary studies.

“These findings are best explained by groups of from the Continent independently colonizing England and Scotland,” most likely from Brittany in northwest France.

“The case for believing that the Neolithic transition in Britain was mediated by a large influx of farmers from continental Europe is compelling,” the authors conclude.

“The migrants’ arrival resulted in sudden and dramatic economic, demographic and social change that seems to have led to a ‘boom-to-bust’ cycle lasting 600-700 years, with the initial rapid rise in population followed by an equally rapid decline, heralding the very different cultural patterns of the later Neolithic (period).”

More information: evidence indicates that migrants introduced farming to Britain, Journal of Archaeological Science, doi:10.1016/j.jas.2009.11.016

Provided by Simon Fraser University

Explore further: Europe's first farmers replaced their Stone Age hunter-gatherer forerunners

Related Stories

The first baby boom

January 3, 2006

In an important new study assessing the demographic impact of the shift from foraging to farming, anthropologists use evidence from 60 prehistoric American cemeteries to prove that the invention of agriculture led to a significant ...

Study: Europeans are of hunter ancestry

November 11, 2005

A DNA study suggests Europeans owe their ancestry mainly to Stone Age hunters, not to later migrants who brought farming to Europe from the Middle East.

When did humans return after last Ice Age?

July 27, 2009

( -- The Cheddar Gorge in Somerset was one of the first sites to be inhabited by humans when they returned to Britain near the end of the last Ice Age. According to new radio carbon dating by Oxford University ...

Recommended for you

Archaeologists discover Cornish barrow site

April 20, 2018

An Archaeologist at The Australian National University (ANU) has discovered a prehistoric Bronze-Age barrow, or burial mound, on a hill in Cornwall and is about to start excavating the untouched site which overlooks the English ...

New ancestor of modern sea turtles found in Alabama

April 18, 2018

A sea turtle discovered in Alabama is a new species from the Late Cretaceous epoch, according to a study published April 18, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Drew Gentry from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, ...

New study improves 'crowd wisdom' estimates

April 18, 2018

In 1907, a statistician named Francis Galton recorded the entries from a weight-judging competition as people guessed the weight of an ox. Galton analyzed hundreds of estimates and found that while individual guesses varied ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Dec 08, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
3 / 5 (2) Dec 08, 2009
No one said France was a country 6000 years ago. The author is talking about a geographical area, that's all.
5 / 5 (3) Dec 09, 2009
That's my point,
If the title had been "Britain populated by people from all over the place" it would have been more accurate, but no one would bother to read it!
The author didn't need to dig, just stand on any street corner and look about.
Nothing has changed much in 6000 years, except the architecture in some places.
1 / 5 (1) Dec 09, 2009
Britain went by the name of Alba until eleven centuries BCE, and was still known by that name in Arabia until the last century. This is like saying that the North American Indians are from Washington, Canada, Alaska or Russia. Those geographical areas need to be referred to by their names at the period in question, or at least "the land that later became known as ... "
not rated yet Dec 09, 2009
too bad the French did not bring chefs with them - child-like they may be - but they know how to cook - and the Brits - well they are funny. Neither could make a reliable car if their lives depended on it - so they have that in common - and the evidence is empirical.
not rated yet Dec 09, 2009
too bad the French did not bring chefs with them - child-like they may be - but they know how to cook - and the Brits - well they are funny. Neither could make a reliable car if their lives depended on it - so they have that in common - and the evidence is empirical.

And where are you from that's so superior in auto manufacturing or any manufacturing.

From your prior posts it appears that evaluating reality isn't in your set of national skills either.
not rated yet Dec 15, 2009
Velanarris: Statistics on car repairs and DMV inspection failures are published at least in several European countries. Usually Japanese and German cars are found the most reliable.
5 / 5 (1) Dec 21, 2009
The tone of this article makes it sound as if hunter gatherers were stupid and along came some people who civilised them. Hunter gatherers managed for millions of years just fine. Why people adopted farming isn't certain, probably a steady access to food but it brought a lot of problems with it, disease being one of them. We might have been better off not adopting farming and running around with spears. Just look at the state of the world today.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.